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Companions of slain Odictas eyed for info on killers, drug network – police

Charges for unlicensed guns filed against three
odicta-300x407

Melvin Odicta

BATANGAS CITY — Police on Tuesday filed charges of illegal possession of firearms against three persons who were supposed to travel with Iloilo businessman and suspected drug lord Melvin Odicta before he and his wife, Meriam, were shot dead at the Caticlan port in Aklan province on Monday morning.

But the bigger story brewing from the police is that the three — Maria Victoria Laygon and drivers Marlon and Manolito Susano — might be tapped as witnesses in the investigation of the murders of the Odicta couple and the illegal drug network supposedly operated by Odicta.

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Two police officials — Supt. Barnard Dasugo, the Batangas City police chief, and Senior Supt. Randy Peralta, the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) supervisor for Southern Tagalog — said in separate interviews that Laygon and the Susanos could be crucial in the ongoing investigation into the killing and the alleged drug network of the Odictas. “Our personnel are now trying to convince them to talk,” Peralta said.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Dasugo said police would place the three under custodial investigation, hoping to elicit information that could help solve the Odictas’ murder.

In a separate telephone interview, Peralta said Laygon and the Susanos could be crucial in the ongoing investigation into the alleged drug network of the Odictas.

“Our personnel are now trying to convince them to talk. With the recent turn of the events, they would not have to worry about anyone getting back at them. There may be warehouses [containing illegal drugs] that they might have any knowledge of,” Peralta said.

Laygon and the Susanos were stopped and held at the Batangas City port last Sunday morning after the police found three unlicensed handguns inside their vehicles.

It turned out that the vehicles, a Toyota Grandia and a Toyota Coaster that were offloaded from a roll-on, roll-off  (Ro-Ro) vessel, belonged to Meriam Odicta.

Melvin, who had been tagged by the Philippine National Police as the drug lord called “Dragon,” and his wife had already left the Batangas port for Aklan when the police realized they were on the ship. (But a police source also told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the lawyers of the Odictas, by citing various laws, prevented the police from compelling the couple to get down from the Ro-Ro vessel.)

The Odictas were shot and killed by a lone gunman when they reached the Caticlan port at 1:30 a.m. Monday.

The charges for illegal possession of firearms were filed at the city prosecutor’s office here. They remained in the custody of the Batangas police while the vehicles were sent to the regional headquarters of the police’s Highway Patrol Group (HPG) in Laguna province.

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Supt. Peter Dionisio, chief of the HPG in Calabarzon region, earlier told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that Melvin Odicta’s group came from Makati City, based on parking tickets recovered from the vehicles. On Thursday, the couple met with Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno to clear their names after they were linked to the illegal drug trade in the Visayas.

Dionisio said the police were tipped off by a concerned citizen that two vehicles, supposedly carrying contraband, would try to leave the Batangas port. SFM

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