Drug war: Cops search for 3 mayors

COTABATO CITY—Police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are hunting down three Lanao del Sur town mayors identified by police intelligence agents as persons involved in the illegal drug trade. Chief Supt. Agripino Javier, police director for the ARMM, said the mayors are considered as “drug lords or illegal drug protectors.” He did not identify who the mayors are. He also said some private individuals have put up P100,000 in reward money for the arrest and neutralization of each of the drug lord mayors.

“The reward did not come from the PNP but from individuals who wanted the drug lord mayors neutralized,” he told reporters. “You better surrender or die,” Javier said, addressing himself to the mayors. Javier refused to say if a shoot-to-kill order had been issued against the mayors, but said “if these mayors resist, of course, the police know what to do.” “I expect these drug lords to have heavily armed followers,” he said.

The hunt for the mayors was made public as a town mayor in Maguindanao is scheduled to appear before Police Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa in an effort to clear his name after reports identified him as a big-time drug lord in Maguindanao. Accompanied by siblings, family and friends, Mayor Rasul Sangki of Ampatuan, Maguindanao, showed up at Javier’s office on Wednesday afternoon. “I strongly deny reports that I am a big-time drug lord in Maguindanao,” Sangki told reporters after an hourlong, closed-door meeting with Javier.

Sangki said he was bothered and deeply concerned by reports that he is involved in the illegal drug trade in the province. As far as Javier is concerned, he said Sangki is not included on the PNP-ARMM drug watch list. But Javier added that he was not sure if the mayor is among the local government executives involved in illegal drugs that the President will soon publicly identify.

Javier said Sangki agreed to meet with Dela Rosa, the PNP chief, in the coming days in Camp Crame. Mayor Montasir Sabal, of Talitay, Maguindanao, also denied that he is a drug lord but admitted he had been involved in drugs before he became a town executive.

Speaking to reporters, Sabal insisted he is clean and that he had already made a vow before the holy Quran. He denied allegations by police in Sultan Kudarat province that he was inside a house in Isulan town which was raided by police last week. “Some of those arrested were relatives of my wife but I have nothing to do with their activities,” Sabal said of the 15 persons arrested during the police raid in Barangay Kalawag, Isulan.

At least P1.3-million worth of “shabu” and a supposed list of names of those involved in the drug trade had been seized during the Isulan raid, according to Senior Supt. Raul Supiter, Sultan Kudarat police director. Sabal said he is ready to undergo a drug test and challenged the police to present evidence linking him to drugs. Sabal was reelected to his last term as mayor of Talitay.

H/T: inquirer

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