Negros Oriental town mayor denies drug raps
DUMAGUETE CITY―The mayor of Basay, a sleepy town in the southernmost part of Negros Oriental province, showed up at police headquarters in Sibulan town, more than 120 kilometers away, on Monday to deny President Duterte’s accusation that he was a protector of illegal drug traffickers.
“I pray that due process be given to me because I am not that kind of person,” said Mayor Beda Cañamaque, a former police official and jail warden who is serving his second term as chief executive of a fourth-class municipality.
According to the provincial police, 63 drug users and six pushers voluntarily surrendered in Basay last month in response to a Philippine National Police campaign dubbed “Tokhang.”
Cañamaque was among scores of local politicians and police officers named by the President on Sunday as allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
In Marawi City, about 200 supporters and relatives of two former mayors―Fahad Salic and his elder brother, Solitario Ali―and Ali’s son, Vice Mayor Arafat Salic, held a rally on Monday to vouch for their integrity after the President tagged them as suspected “narcopoliticians.”
Fahad is the former husband of actress Alma Moreno.
In Panay, the police regional office recalled the 27 security escorts of four mayors―Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo City, Alex Centena of Calinog and Mariano Malones of Maasin town, both in Iloilo, and Julius Pacificador of Hamtic town in Antique province.
Of the number, 21 were assigned to Mabilog, four to Centena and two to Pacificador. Malones had no escort based on police records.
The PNP also removed the operational control of police units from the local chief executives.
“We are concerned that people with ill motives might take advantage of the situation,” lawyer Mark Piad, Mabilog’s spokesperson, told the Inquirer.
Mayor Cañamaque of Basay said he submitted himself to a drug test at the Sibulan police station, “which showed that I was negative [of drug traces].”
He said he wanted to prove to authorities that he was clean and could not be a drug protector.
He said he also submitted an affidavit to the provincial police to clear his name and “to deny all the allegations that I am a drug protector.”
“I’m happy with President Digong for his dedication and direction in stopping illegal drugs; President Digong is my idol. But maybe he received intelligence that was not properly validated,” said Cañamaque, who had been a police chief for eight years from 1984 and a municipal warden of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
He said he suspected that his political rivals were behind his inclusion in the list “to ruin my political career and my family.”
Even his child in Dumaguete City does not want to go to school anymore due to humiliation, he said.
Supporters of the three Marawi politicians who held a rally in the city’s Barangay Bangon said the charges against them were politically motivated.
They denounced Lanao del Sur Vice Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. as being behind their inclusion in the list.
In a statement, Adiong denied the accusation.
“Justice for Arafat; Pre (Fahad) and Soli (Ali) are good leaders, not drug lords and protectors,” some of their placards read.
Datu Jubair Macaumbos, a former city official, spoke during the rally to recognize Fahad’s relentless campaign against drugs until he left office in June. Several pushers had either been arrested or killed during Fahad’s term, he said.
“Why should I surrender, am I using drugs? Am I trading drugs? Am I protecting drug syndicates?” Fahad said in a statement. With reports from Richel Umel and Nash Maulana, Inquirer Mindanao; and Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas
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