By Joseph Jubelag
General Santos City – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is set to investigate at least three mayors from the South Cotabato – Cotabato – Sultan Kudrat – Sarangani – General Santos City (Socscsksargen) region linked to the illegal drugs network of arrested suspected drug lord Mayor Aniceto Lopez Jr., of Maasim, Sarangani.
PDEA director-general Aaron Aquino said the involvement of the three mayors in the illegal drug trade was uncovered based on the contents of a “green book” seized during the raid launched by PDEA agents last Friday on the house of Mayor Lopez in Brangay Lumasal, Sarangani. The raid resulted in the seizure of one kilo of ‘shabu’ worth P5 million, several firearms and explosives, and equipment used in the manufacture of methamphetamine hydrochloride.
Aquino said the “green book” contained the names of the three mayors who were linked to the illegal drug transactions of the El Patron drug network allegedly led by Lopez.
He said the names of the three mayors were listed in the multi-million illegal drug transactions of the drug ring.
“We are closely monitoring the illicit activities of the three mayors who will be the next target of our anti-drug operations,” Aquino said.
PDEA filed on Monday before the prosecutor’s office in Alabel, Sarangani charges for illegal possession of drugs and firearms and explosives against Lopez.
Lopez was subjected to inquest proceedings before provincial prosecutor Elmer Lastimosa wherein his legal counsel, Orlando Salatandre filed an omnibus motion to release the mayor from detention while asking the prosecutor to conduct proper preliminary investigation on the cases filed against him.
Lastimosa said he has to evaluate the motion filed by the mayor’s camp before he can issue a resolution whether to grant or dismiss such motion.
PDEA regional chief Cesario Gil Castro said the El Patron drug ring is linked to the local narco-terror group Ansar-Khilafah Philippines which has links with the drug network of slain Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and Albuerra, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa and detained drug lord Herbert Colangco.
He said the mayor is a known supporter of the ISIS-inspired Ansar Khilafah Philippines local terror group and New People’s Army rebels in the area.
A hydro-incinerator cylinder tubes and chemicals used in the manufacture of “shabu were seized from the Lopez’s house. Castro said the suspect was believed to be operating a mini-drug laboratory in his house.
When asked about the seized equipment used in the manufacture of shabu, Castro said Lopez claimed that the equipments belong to his daughter who is a hobbyist/cook.
“We’re very sure that the mayor was just making an alibi since the seized equipments are being used for the operation of a mini-drug laboratory in his house,” Castro said
The mayor was able to elude arrest during the early dawn raid on his house but he later surrendered the same day to Sen. Manny Pacquiao who turned him over to PDEA.
Castro maintained that Lopez was involved in the illegal drug trade amid allegations made by the mayor’s wife, Haydee, that the evidence recovered from their house was planted.
The mayor’s daughter, Manking, said that his father was not involved in the illegal drug trade since the mayor himself hates illegal drug use.
Meanwhile, PDEA agents arrested Monday a former barangay councilor during a drug bust operation in Banga, South Cotabato.
The suspect identified as Joseph Atensor, former village councilor of Barangay Liwanay Banga was nabbed by anti-narcotics agents for selling several grams of “shabu” to a PDEA poseur buyer.