By Jerry Alcayde
CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said there are at least 13 narco-politicians in the Mimaropa (Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) region.
The exception is Marinduque, which PDEA said has no local government officials involved in illegal drugs.
PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said some of the politicians on the so-called narco-list are running in the May elections, many for barangay positions.
Aquino called on the voters in the region to shun candidates with links to illegal drugs. He also urged local government and barangay officials in coastal communities to support PDEA’s intensified operations against drug smuggling and drug trafficking in key seaports such as Calapan City port in Oriental Mindoro.
He commended PDEA Mimaropa chief Mario Ramos for successfully clearing at least 64 percent of the region’s barangays of drugs, an accomplishment which he said may make Mimaropa the first drug-cleared region in the country.
Aquino said his office has deployed agents in 14 major seaports and established eight airport interdiction units with X-ray machines for cargoes and baggage inspection.
“Our campaign against illegal drugs should be done in a holistic approach with the full cooperation of everyone from the national government down to barangay and family units,” Aquino said during the inauguration of a new three-story building in Calapan last
Tuesday that will house PDEA’s regional office.
“Kahit tatlong Duterte pa tayo magkaroon hindi natin maso-solve ang drug problem kung hindi tayo magtutulungan,” the PDEA chief said as he acknowledged that some of his enemies in their anti-drug campaigns are within the government.
“Marami sila. I know that because I’m here,” said Aquino without naming anyone.
The R18.9 million for constructing the building was sourced from the regular budget of the agency and is on a property donated by the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro.
Among the guests at the inauguration ceremony were Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso V. Umali Jr., Calapan Mayor Arnan C. Panaligan,
Chief Supt. Tomas Apolinario, regional director of Police Regional Office- Mimaropa, Sr. Supt. Thomas R. Frias, provincial director of
Oriental Mindoro Police Provincial Office, representatives of the Army’s 203rd Brigade, provincial prosecution service office, media and host barangay officials