124 Cordillera gov’t officials surrender in Duterte drug list

>> Monday, September 26, 2016

3 La Union mayors, ex-congressman tagged in list 

By Erwin Beleo and Genalyn D. Kabiling

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet -- – Some 124 government officials in Cordillera surrendered to authorities last week as government intensified campaign against illegal drugs.
Data from regional police office here bared those who surrendered in Mountain Province included  a provincial board member, mayor, barangay chairman and four public school teachers.
In Abra, a mayor, ex-mayor, five municipal councilors, 18 barangay chairmen, 22 village councilmen, and two government employees surrendered.
In Apayao, surrenderees included a councilor, two barangay chairmen, 20 barangay kagawads (councilor), five tanods (watchmen), 16 government employees, two public school teachers, and two Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) members.
In Baguio City and Benguet, two and four kagawads surrendered respectively.
In Ifugao, a councilor, ex-councilor, barangay captain, and kagawad surrendered, while in Kalinga,  councilor, barangay chairman, five kagawads, one village watchman, and a government employee turned themselves in.
Chief Supt. Elmo Sarona, regional police director said most of those who surrendered submitted themselves to police to clear their names. 
Others admitted using illegal drugs.
The officials are closely being monitored by the police to make sure they do not return to their old ways.
Meanwhile, Naguillan, La Union Mayor Reynaldo “Bobot” Flores said he does not harbor ill feelings towards President Duterte for tagging him as a “high-value target” on illegal drugs.
“There is a divine intervention in this situation and I am very positive with the re-investigation, authorities will discover for themselves that there are other persons involved in the establishment of the shabu factory aside from those who were already convicted,” Flores said.
The President during his troop visit at the camp of the 5th Infantry Division in Cauayan, Isabela last week, ordered the military to go after those on the list involved in illegal drugs, including Flores.
Flores said he was shocked by the President’s pronouncement because the investigation against him is ongoing after he was first identified publicly along with four other personalities in La Union as “narco-politicians.”
Flores said he has already submitted himself for investigation with the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Aside from Flores, the President also named Mayor Martin De Guzman of Bauang town, Mayor Dante Garcia of Tubao town, and former Congressman Eufranio Eriguel. 
All denied involvement in any illegal drug activities.
“I don’t blame the President. This is the work of God. If I was mentioned again, then media and investigators will come to me. So what I would tell them again is about the shabu laboratory,” he said.
Flores, however, is concerned about his safety because he said “high-value targets” are priority in the campaign against illegal drugs.
In an affidavit submitted to Camp Crame, Flores named the mastermind behind the shabu laboratory discovered by authorities in July 2008 in Barangay Bimmotobot in Naguilian.
“I know a lot of (hidden) information about the involvement of several personalities on the shabu lab because I was one of those who conducted the raid against the illegal facility and we know the story behind it,” Flores said.
Flores said he thanked Duterte for naming him as the number one mayor on his list because it would give him the opportunity to tell all about the facility including the mastermind.
Aside from Police Supt. Dionicio Borromeo, the convicted shabu laboratory protector, Flores claimed there were prominent personalities involved in the illegal trade in the province.
Faced with the enormous drug problem in the country, Malacañang is seeking public understanding in the President’s plea for another six months in resolving the drug menace.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the President is just being “realistic” to effectively implement his “comprehensive” strategy against illegal drugs.
“Let’s understand the President. Let us cooperate. This is for the greater good,” Andanar said in a radio interview.
During the campaign, Duterte vowed to rid the country of illegal drugs and crime in six months time. Then senatorial candidate and former PNP Chief Panfilo Lacson said it could not be done. 

Last week, the President conceded that he still needed six more months to implement the campaign against illegal drugs, saying he only realized how bad the drug problem was after taking office last June.


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