DAANBANTAYAN Mayor Vicente Loot questioned on Friday, March 15, why he is being charged administratively by the Duterte administration following the release of the second narcolist, which included him and another Cebu official.
He said that President Duterte has been saying all along that there was evidence against him.
“Kun duna silay evidence, criminal case unta,” he said in a statement. (If they had evidence, they should have filed a criminal case.)
Government officials facing administrative charges are either suspended or removed from office, but for those facing criminal charges, the penalty of imprisonment applies.
Loot, who is not seeking any public post come May 13 after one term as mayor, said he will face the charge, nevertheless.
“At long last, I can finally get to clear my name,” Loot said.
The same cannot be said of San Fernando Vice Mayor Fralz Sabalones, the other Cebu public official named in the second narcolist.
Sabalones, brother of self-confessed drug lord Franz Sabalones, has extended his leave from public duties to June 28 or two days before his term ends.
San Fernando town hall employees have not seen the vice mayor for months now after several barangay captains and town councilors were murdered one after the other on suspicion of their links to the illegal drug trade.
Councilor Philip Jude Medalla is acting vice mayor of San Fernando.
In a statement, Loot said that since an administrative case has been lodged against him, he prefers that he answer the charge against him in the right forum to show good faith.
He was also advised by his lawyers to present his evidence, especially the investigation report exonerating him, so as not to trivialize the issue.
He will wait for the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea) to tell him the venue where he can “finally get to clear (his) name.” But he wondered about the need to sue him administratively if the President has been claiming that he was criminally liable for his alleged protection of drug lords.
He and former Cebu Provincial Police Office chief Marcelo Garbo Jr. were the prominent Cebu public figures named in Duterte’s narcolist.
In Sabalones’s case, the only way to avoid prosecution was to disappear from the limelight, completely.
In an interview with Niño Ergero, an employee of the Human Resources Management office of the San Fernando town hall, it was learned that Sabalones had filed an extension of his current leave until June 28.
Initially, Sabalones had filed a leave until March 6 but decided to extend it completely by consuming all of his available paid vacation and sick leave credits.
Ergero said Sabalones still had 7.5 days’ worth of vacation leave credits and 21.5 days’ worth of sick leave credits remaining, all with pay until April 16.
Once his paid leave credits are used up, the rest of his leave, from April 17 until June 28, will already be without pay.
Sabalones has not sought reelection come May 13.
Sabalones and Loot were two of 46 public officials named by President Rodrigo Duterte in his latest “narcolist” during an activity in Davao City last Thursday, March 14.
Former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama was no longer in the second list. (from AZLG of Superbalita Cebu,KAL, JKV)