Briones: Tomas’s turn

THE plot thickens in this story we call the local political setting under the Duterte administration.

In a twist worthy of The Probinsyano script, Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II named Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña a protector of drug lords.

That raised many eyebrows.

Because wasn’t it Michael Rama, the latter’s predecessor, who was linked to the illegal drug trade by no less than the President himself?

But Rama, whose political future had all but been quashed by the stigma, remains indefatigable in his denial.

After all, no evidence was ever presented to prove the allegation true, which might explain no charges were ever lodged against him.

And now, Osmeña is singing the same tune, daring Aguirre to support the latter’s accusation.

Unfortunately for the mayor, an affidavit executed in 2016 by Reyaldo “Jumbo” Diaz listed him among Cebu officials who allegedly received payola from their drug syndicate.

Jumbo was the alleged bagman and cousin of slain drug lord Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz.

Not much has been heard from him since his arrest in Sorsogon in September two years ago because he has been living under the state witness protection program.

According to Jumbo’s affidavit dated Nov. 23, 2016, Osmeña was supposed to have received P2 million for hospitalization expenses in 2013 and P5 million during the 2016 elections.

“I authorized the release of his (Diaz’s) statement upon the request of the Task Force Commander Against Illegal Drugs of the NBI to encourage individuals possessing additional knowledge or information to come forward and corroborate the same,” Aguirre said, adding that he only had the information released after more than a year because they were still “in the process of building up the case.”

It’s no coincidence that last week, Osmeña said he planned to file a disbarment case against Aguirre for allegedly meddling in the case the Cebu City Government filed against BDO Unibank and mall operator SM.

Still, Osmeña shouldn’t be surprised to find himself in this predicament.

During the election campaign, he was accused of protecting drug lords.

And in August 2016, the police director general said that a police colonel whom self-confessed drug lord Franz Sabalones had said was receiving P200,000 weekly payola from him was Osmeña’s “trusted aide,” and that the real reason Osmeña was angry at the police and withdrew his support to them and washed his hands off the illegal drug campaign was because the police colonel was transferred.

With that said, I’m just waiting for a love interest to be introduced.
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