Liberals ‘haunted by own ghosts’
MALACAÑANG on Friday said the opposition Liberal Party was spooked by its own ghosts and said the Palace had nothing to do with the testimony of a drug cartel bagman who linked LP stalwarts to slain drug lord Melvin Odicta Sr. and alleged narco-politician Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.
“The administration had nothing to do with the testimony of a drug cartel bagman Ricky Serenio, implicating Senator Franklin Drilon and former secretary Mar Roxas in the illegal drug trade in the Visayas,” the Palace said in a statement.
“The Liberal Party is afraid of its own ghosts after conducting several witch hunt investigations against their perceived political enemies when they were in power,” he added.
Serenio, a confessed bagman for the Berya drug cartel earlier arrested by police, has implicated Drilon and Roxas in the illegal drug trade in the Visayas, saying they were the protectors of the notorious slain drug lord Odicta.
Odicta controlled the narcotics trade in Iloilo City, Serenio said in an affidavit he submitted to the La Carlota City prosecutor’s office in Negros Occidental on Oct. 18.
Serenio had accused Drilon and Roxas of partnering with Odicta to control the illegal drug business in the Western Visayas, Panay and Negros islands by kicking out Berya Tolentino and the Camaria group from their dominance as local drug suppliers.
“Being in power with close association to the PNP, it was easy for the Roxas-Drilon tandem to paralyze, and eventually overthrow the Berya-Camaria drug operations and wipe out these groups from operating in Negros Island,” read Serenio’s affidavit.
With the Berya-Camaria group taken out of play, Serenio said Drilon and Roxas could turn over the drug operations in the region to Odicta.
Odicta and his wife Meriam were shot dead by unidentified assailants on Aug. 29, 2016 upon their arrival at the Caticlan Jetty Port in Aklan.
Serenio also claimed Drilon and Roxas were not only protectors of Odicta, but also patrons of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who protected the illegal drug operations of the slain drug lord.
Liberal Party president Senator Francis Pangilinan vowed that the opposition would not be silenced by Serenio’s allegations.
The opposition would continue to speak out and uncover any misdeeds of the administration, Pangilinan said.
“This could not gag the opposition. We should speak against and expose wrongdoings,” he said.
Pangilinan branded the allegations against Drilon and Roxas as an effort by the Duterte administration to just divert public’s attention from the scandal that rocked the Bureau of Customs concerning the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu, and the extrajudicial killings in the government’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
If the government was really serious in its illegal drugs crackdown, he said the Duterte administration should go after those involved in the smuggling of the huge shabu shipment from China.
“They plant or manufacture evidence to pin down their enemies and tamper with the evidence to free and absolve their allies,” he said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said he does not believe the accusations being hurled against Drilon and Roxas, not only because he knew them well, but because it was difficult to take the word of a drug cartel bagman.