By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos and Zea C. Capistrano
President Duterte released late Friday evening a matrix of 44 incumbent and former local chief executives who are allegedly funding the Daesh-inspired Maute Group in Marawi City through their links to the illegal drug trade.
The President declassified the matrix, labeled “LDS (Lanao del Sur) Drug Trade Linked Diagram,” a day after his fifth visit to Marawi during which he stated that slain Ozamiz City mayor Reynaldo Parojinog was involved in the drug trade that had funded the siege.
Duterte hosted a “media night” with reporters at the Matina Enclave in Davao City late Friday night at which occasion he declassified a copy of what he had been brandishing as a drug matrix, declaring there was no use hiding it from the public anymore.
“That’s for public consumption already. ‘Yung (The details on) how they operated the drug campaign in Marawi and the entire of Mindanao,” Duterte said as he released a copy of the diagram.
“Sabi ko, bitawan na natin (I told them that we should make it public already); there’s no use keeping it a secret, for what? That would explain really, the so many killings here,” he added.
Duterte said his intelligence people worked on the matrix for the last two to three months when he said the government troops were able to “penetrate the entrails of the city.”
“There they discovered that the Maute was really preparing for a long haul. Until now, they (have) never ran out of ordnance, explosives, ammunition, and all. I really do not know the extent now of the contamination,” Duterte said.
Listed in the matrix are the names of incumbent and former mayors and vice mayors, board members, and barangay captains listed either as drug lords or drug dealers.
The document also contained names and aliases of 19 drug dealers and 11 drug lords.
It showed the links of a former Marawi mayor to 10 of the 11 drug lords, including one drug lord who is allegedly based in Manila.
The document contained a note which said all drug transactions in Lanao del Sur are passed to two former mayors through a barangay chairman and a vice mayor.
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año, when asked about the local executives in the drug matrix, said one is a mayor in Maguindanao who currently hiding from authorities.
“The report of the PNP is different. When we tried to dig up everything about the information about this and how the Maute got this enormous money… part of those funds are from drugs. So we made the study, we analyzed, evaluate and this is what came out from the report,” Año said.
Año also did not discount the possibility that the bundles of money and cash worth P79 million which was seized in one of the houses inside Marawi City last June could have also come from illegal drugs.
On the night of the National Day of Protest, Duterte admitted to have ordered the wiretapping of some government officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
“Whoever he was talking to, I was listening to him. Don’t ask me how I (and) what kind of listening device (I had). It was a whisper from God I was listening to,” he said, referring to the alleged involvement of Parojinog and Iloilo Mayor Jed Mabilog.
When asked if what Duterte was doing was within legal bounds, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the President is a person who always adheres to the law.
“I’m sure that being a lawyer, he was operating within (the) bounds of legality.” Abella said Friday.
Republic Act No. 4200 prohibits the wiretapping or recording of any private conversation unless it is done pursuant to a court order. Violators could face imprisonment from six months to six years. If the offender is a public official, he shall also suffer the penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification from public office.
The war in Marawi City started on May 23, 2017. In the last update from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) last September 17, it said a total of 1,730 civilians had been rescued by the government troops.
The AFP also recorded a total of 673 enemies killed in the war, 47 civilians killed by the terrorists, and 149 troops killed by the enemies.
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año also said the conservative estimates that the military has already spent for ammunitions and fuel in the war in Marawi is P2 billion.
Meanwhile, Malacañang was advised not to disclose details about the Marawi siege in the wake of the rescue of Catholic priest Father Teresito (Chito) Soganub in order not to compromise the operations in Marawi City.
Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson, had earlier apologized to the media for not being able to give details but assured that rescuing hostages was still high among the priorities of the troops.
“Karamihan po sa atin, maaaring isang balita lamang itong mga lumabas na ito. Pero sa sundalo pong nagtatrabaho sa kaguluhan diyan sa Marawi, buhay ho ang pinag-uusapan. Buhay ng sundalo, buhay ng hostage. (Most of us may treat this as a simple news. But for the soldiers in Marawi, this is life we’re talking about. Lives of the soldiers and the hostages),” Padilla said.
“Kaya ipagpaumanhin ninyo na po kung may mga panahon na ayaw naming magbigay ng impormasyon. Hindi po maibibigay ‘yan dahil ang pinangangalagaan ho ay ang kapakanan at safety nung mga hostages na ating sinisikap na ma-rescue (Please excuse us if there are times that we don’t want to give information because we are trying to protect the welfare and safety of the hostages that we are trying to rescue),” he added. (With a report from Francis T. Wakefield)
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