PDEA focuses on ‘narco-politics’ as polls draw near-A A +A
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
AS THE campaign season for next year’s elections draw near, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Northern Mindanao has increased its surveillance and case build-up against politicians suspected to have been supporting the distribution of illegal drugs to raise funds.
Roberto Opeña, PDEA Regional Director, said they are now intensifying efforts to address the probable rise in narco-politics in the region.
Opeña said since the 2013 midterm election is less than a year away, there will definitely be a significant rise in narco-politics in the country.
“But with or without election, may natatanggap pa rin tayong impormasyon tungkol sa mga connection or participation ng ilang mga local officials natin sa illegal drugs,” he told Sun.Star.
The issue on narco-politics cropped up anew with the arrest of controversial car dealer Lynard Allan Bigcas on Saturday dawn for illegal possession of illegal drugs, paraphernalia, and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
PDEA agents also recovered Bigcas’ certificate of candidacy (COC) inside his vehicle. Bigcas admitted he will be running for mayor in Talakag town, Bukidnon.
“This would fall as narco-politics knowing na mapera rin itong si Bigcas,” Opeña said.
He went on to name several politicians who have been arrested due to their alleged involvement in illegal drugs activity.
Opeña said some of those local officials they have arrested are councilors, a mayor, and barangay officials.
He claimed that narco-politics exist in almost all provinces in Northern Mindanao, including Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon and Misamis Occidental.
However, he said that percentage-wise, only about two percent of local officials in Northern Mindanao were reportedly into narco-politics.
“But we are still evaluating and monitoring the report to see if there is an increase,” says Opeña.
He said public officials and illegal drugs are a dangerous mix, citing that these people are seeking power and connection to protect their illegal activities.
“Kaya lalong humihigpit ang aming campaign dahil kailangang protektahan ang ating mga mamamayan laban sa ganitong klaseng politician na mamumuno sa lungsod o sa bayan,” Opeña added.
Meanwhile, City Councilor Edgar Cabanlas said Bigcas is “untouchable” as he believed there is “someone more influential” behind the controversial car dealer “as he is able to get away and clean up his mess.”
Cabanlas urged PDEA to really file a case and make sure that Bigcas will be sentenced for all the violations he committed. Bigcas was released Monday afternoon after posting P320,000 bail.
The case for illegal drug use filed against him by PDEA was dismissed after he voluntarily submits himself for rehabilitation.
Bigcas is also facing smuggling cases after several vehicles and motorbikes were seized from his rented warehouses in Talakag and Kauswagan in Cagayan de Oro last year.
He was also involved in a shooting incident in Davao City.
“His case had been idle and there is no sign that Bigcas will be convicted,” Cabanlas said.
However, City Councilor Juan Sia said Bigcas should be given fair trial as he is only a victim of a smuggling case.
“The ones to be questioned is the government, like the Bureau of Customs and other agencies who allowed the smuggling of these goods before these landed in the hands of Bigcas,” Sia said.
He added that the government, under President Benigno Aquino, must look after the “big fish” behind Bigcas who gave him the power to dispose the smuggled vehicles and ammunitions.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 09, 2012.