Philippines

2 South Cotabato mayors say narco-list inclusion politically-motivated

2 SoCot mayors say narco-list inclusion politically-motivated

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Two town mayors in South Cotabato province branded on Friday as “politically-motivated” their inclusion anew in President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s list of alleged narco-politicians.

Incumbent mayors Albert Palencia of Banga and Pablo Matinong Jr. of Sto. Niño said in separate radio interviews that they were saddened and disappointed with their continuing implication by authorities in the illegal drug trade. 

The two mayors — both seeking reelection in the coming May 13 polls — were also included in the initial narco-list released by the President in 2016. 

“I am not involved in any way in illegal drugs. I have been investigated and presented myself to higher authorities to clear my name and yet my name was still on the list. I am really puzzled and don’t know what to do with that now,” Palencia said in an interview with the Radio Mindanao Network.

Palencia said he had submitted various documents and clearances to the National Police Commission (Napolcom), and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Manila regarding the matter.

The mayor said the documents were received by Napolcom vice chair and executive officer, Rogelio Casurao, and he was told that his case would be referred to and discussed by a committee that drew up the list.

He did not follow up the matter and no result was released by concerned agencies regarding his case.

In November 2016, joint anti-drug operatives raided the Palencia residence and farmhouse in Banga but did not find any illegal drug.

He was, however, briefly detained after the raid supposedly found ammunition in the mayor’s cabinet and a rifle grenade in his farm.

Palencia said he has supported the anti-drug operations in his town and provided the local police with the necessary support, through the Municipal Anti-Drug Abuse Council (MADAC).

“This is clearly politically-motivated. But my constituents knew me well. If they saw any bad thing that I did and if I had not served them well, they will not vote for me,” said Palencia, who was the only mayor in South Cotabato who ran under the PDP-Laban in the 2016 elections.

Palencia, who is now running under the Nationalist People’s Coalition, said he has no ill feeling and will continue to support the President.

“He just released what was fed to him by authorities,” he said.

Meanwhile, Matinong reiterated that he has already proven that he was not involved in any way in illegal drugs.

Matinong, who is seeking a second term, said he had also submitted documents concerned agencies, such as the PDEA, Napolcom, and the Philippine National Police to clear his name.

Fearing that he would be subjected to raids, Matinong stayed in his office inside the municipal hall for several months. 

“I was surprised why my name again came up. I had been actually working to cleanse my town of illegal drugs,” he said in an interview over DXMC Bombo Radyo. (PNA)

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