Minority senators slam naming of alleged narcopolitician as Maute negotiator
Why is the government appointing a politician earlier named by President Rodrigo Duterte himself as a narcopolitician to negotiate with the Maute group, who is behind the months-long Marawi siege?
This was the question posed by opposition senators on Tuesday as Duterte confirmed that he had allowed former Marawi City Mayor Omar Solitario Ali to negotiate with the Maute group.
“Akala ko ba galit ang administrasyon sa iligal na droga pero bakit nila hinahayaan ang isang drug lord para makipagnegosasyon sa Maute group?” Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said in a joint statement, referring to Ali.
(I thought the administration was mad against illegal drugs? Why would they let a drug lord to negotiate with the Maute group?)
Ali was accused as a funder of the Isis-inspired rebels and was reportedly included in Duterte’s list of narcopoliticians.
Last June 23, or a month into the Marawi siege, the Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group in Mindanao recovered two kilograms of shabu worth about P10 million and other drug paraphernalia at Ali’s house in Barangay (village) Bangon, Marawi.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the concurrent martial law administrator, said he ordered the removal of Ali from the list of persons ordered arrested under martial law for alleged rebellion as recommended by Peace Adviser Secretary Jess Dureza. Two days later, Lorenzana revoked their clearance.
“Kung prayoridad ng administrasyon ang gera kontra droga, dapat managot ang lahat ng may kinalaman sa drug trade, pati ang mga kaalyado ng Presidente,” Sen. Bam Aquino added.
(If the war against drugs is the administration’s priority, everyone should be held accountable, including the President’s allies.)
Aquino insisted that the government should be transparent in its dealings with Ali so he would not escape liability in connection with his illegal drugs case.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Frank Drilon, for his part, said Ali’s help to end the Marawi siege should not be an excuse to absolve him from his illegal drugs cases.
“We are willing to accept any help that the government can get to end the Marawi siege once and for all. However, this should not be used as reason to exonerate Solitario of the rebellion and drug charges filed against him,” said.
Cases filed against Ali should be pursued to prove that the government is serious in prosecuting those involved in illegal drugs, Drilon added. /idl
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.