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Tuesday July 17, 2018

Capitol top leaders hit back at village chief

THE top provincial officials of Negros Occidental assailed the “malicious” and “false statements” made by a village captain in Bacolod City, who implicated them in the illegal drug trade.

Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson vehemently denied the accusations of Barangay 35 village chief Manuel “Maui” Huelar Jr., who is now detained at the Metro Bacolod District Jail-Male Dorm Annex in Handumanan Village for sale and possession of illegal drugs.

Huelar, who was arrested by agents of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in November last year, supposedly executed an affidavit while in prison.

Marañon said he doesn’t know Huelar, adding that he was shocked when he got implicated by the village leader.

“Karon pa lang ko kabati. First time in my life, ini si Manuel Huelar. I have not seen him. Kung pakita siya sa akon, wala gid ko kakita sa iya. Wala gid ko kakilala sa iya, I have not met him in my whole life. Kag nakibot ako na nadala ngalan nakon,” the governor said in a press conference at the Provincial Capitol Friday afternoon.

He was joined by former Fourth District representative Jeffrey Ferrer, who was also implicated in the illegal drug trade along with wife, Representative Juliet Ferrer.

Marañon and Ferrer said they believed that someone is behind Huelar “orchestrating” the lies and fabrications.

They said it was clear that the detained barangay captain was used, and he allowed himself to be used.

Libel case

Marañon said he and Ferrer have decided to take legal action against Huelar and a local newspaper (not SunStar Bacolod) that published the story without getting their sides first.

“Ihatag namon sa legal panel. Most probably we will file libel sa newspaper and sa ini nga tawo,” the governor said.

Marañon said the names mentioned by Huelar in his affidavit – Ferrer and Lacson – may run for governor in the 2019 elections.

He added that even his son was implicated in the illegal gambling in Sagay City, a claim which he vehemently denied.

The governor said that even their supporters won’t believe the hearsay.

For Ferrer, the allegations are “nonsense, fabricated, and character assassination” as well as politically-motivated.

He said he knew Huelar as a former cager, who played for the defunct Negros Slashers.

The former lawmaker also said that Huelar had asked for his help when he ran in the last barangay elections.

Ferrer asked how could he and his wife be protectors of drug lords in La Carlota City when 12 of the 14 barangays there was already declared by the Pdea as “drug-free.”

Timing

Both Marañon and Ferrer believed the allegations hurled against them were timed for the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday.

Ferrer said it was “intentional to impress” the President, who strongly campaigns against illegal drugs, criminalities and corruption.

He said that if the person behind Huelar wants to impress Duterte, he should emphasize that more localities in Negros Occidental have been declared as drug-free.

Marañon and Ferrer said they’d rather not talk to Duterte about the allegations hurled against them as it just a black propaganda and the President have other real problems to deal with.

The governor said he’d rather talk to Duterte about the development in the province, including Negros Occidental still being the third richest province in the country.

If the affidavit already reached Duterte, the governor trusts the President won’t believe it as it just a mere hearsay and has no evidence.

Ferrer echoed the sentiments of the governor, saying that they have nothing to worry about because it is not true.

Not true

Ferrer came to the defense of Lacson, whom he challenged in the vice gubernatorial post in the 2016 elections.

Huelar alleged in his affidavit that Lacson is a “rabid drug user as shown in his demeanor, appearance, and body movement.”

The village captain claimed that the vice governor has a “thin frame and dry looking skin indicat(ive) of shabu’s effects on the appetite and hygiene of a person.”

“Kagwapo sang vice governor. Amo na gani nag-daug siya kay gwapo lang siya diutay sa akon, diutay lang abanse niya,” Ferrer joked.

He assailed the person behind Huelar, whom he claimed as the real drug protector, for targeting the top two leaders of the province.

In a statement, Lacson, who is currently in Cebu City attending the National Assembly of the Vice Governors League of the Philippines, slammed Huelar for the “malicious” statements.

“I strongly and unequivocally deny the obviously malicious and false statements made by Mr. Manuel Huelar against my person. I am now in Cebu…and I would be more than willing to face the media when I get back,” the vice governor said.

Huelar also accused Lacson’s brother of operating a “drug selling kingdom” in the posh subdivision their family owned in Bacolod.

In his affidavit, Huelar also said that after being detained for almost a year and being away from his family and “having no means to support them,” he realized he “needs to do something” to contribute to the anti-drug campaign of Duterte.

“I need to do this in order that no father like me will ever suffer the same fate as I have now, or more persons may become victims of drug abuse due to the accessibility and availability of illegal drugs,” he said.

While he maintained his innocence on the drug charges filed against him, Huelar admitted he used drugs before.

He said it is not too late for him to reform and make amends by helping the government eliminate the drug problem, by identifying those involved in illegal drugs.


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