CEBU City Police Office (CCPO) Director Joel Doria said that Supt. Romeo Santander was surprised when President Rodrigo Duterte named him as one of the drug protectors.
“I told him that he has all the time to defend himself, there’s no problem. All he has to do is comply with the directive, which is to go to Camp Crame to air his side,” Doria said in Tagalog, referring to his phone conversation with Santander.
For his part, former Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama was in Manila yesterday, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte identified him as a protector of drug personalities, but he would not disclose if he reported to the President to clear his name.
Rama declined to reveal other details of his trip and said he would do so in a press conference today.
Like other local officials, Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said he was surprised to hear that Rama was included in the list of 159 mayors, police officers and judges who allegedly protect illegal drug players.
“I have known the former mayor during our days when we were together in the City Council of Cebu. However, if a crime has been committed then let the law take its course,” Davide said.
Jerome Gonzales, operations officer of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7, said they’re just waiting for the directive from the Office of the President on what action to take against the other officials named by the President.
Several of the personalities showed up yesterday before Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa.
Doria said he did not know about Santander’s inclusion in the list prior to his assignment as the new CCPO deputy director for operations.
Santander was tagged as a drug protector when he was the chief of the City Intelligence Branch (CIB).
“Wala pa. Kasi kung alam ko definitely I’ll talk to him. Nung malaman natin sa news na ito na kasama ang pangalan niya, I immediately issued the order for his relief as deputy for operations (I didn’t know. If I had known, I would have talked to him. When we found out in the news that he was in the list, I immediately issued an order for his relief as deputy for operations),” he said.
As for the other officers who are suspected of being involved in the illegal drug trade, Doria said the police are still validating the information about their alleged illegal activities.
“May mga specific tayong tinitignan (We are checking some specific information),” he said.
At Cebu City Hall, a city councilor allied with the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) said he was not surprised over the inclusion of Rama in the list.
Councilor Sisinio Andales said he had expected Rama to be in the list of “narcopoliticians” named by Duterte last Sunday.
In a press conference yesterday, he said that Rama’s alleged involvement in the drug trade is the biggest attack against him.
“I wasn’t shocked and surprised. It’s clear and apparent now with Duterte’s announcement. I don’t think the President will be complacent with identifying big personalities without verification and reevaluation, being a lawyer and former fiscal in Davao,” he said in Cebuano.
Andales also said that allegations that Team Rama has a “narcopolitician” for a leader would reflect on the entire group.
“They kept on saying that Mayor Tom (Tomas Osmeña) is dying, involved in drugs, but it has boomeranged on them,” he said.
Interviewed separately, Governor Davide said he has no idea where the President got his information but he believes it was verified and has basis.
“Of course the President must have basis pud tingali kay gi-anunsyo man, though I don’t know where he got his information,” Davide said.
While his administration fully supports the fight against illegal drugs, Davide emphasized the importance of due process and that it should not be compromised.
For his part, Acting Vice Mayor David Tumulak urged everyone to give not only Rama, but also the others who were named, a chance to explain their side.
Tumulak, a Team Rama ally, noted, though, that there have been reports of errors in the President’s list.
“If proven true, it serves them right. Imprison them, if needed. As for Mike (Rama), I know he can defend himself and I have great respect for the President,” he said.
As peace and order chairman, he said he’s seen Rama urge the police to pursue drug pushers, including Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, and reprimand those who were lax in anti-drug efforts when he was mayor.
Like Andales, Tumulak urged everyone to stop the political fighting, saying that the Cebuanos don’t deserve it.
“Regardless of a backfire, now’s the time to move on. Let’s give the people a chance to feel the real essence of public service,” he said. Apple Grace C. Danuco, USJ-R Intern