Two Palawan mayors were linked by the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to illegal drugs and were stripped of authority over the Philippine National Police (PNP) in their respective towns. Included in the list of local government officials released Thursday by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) were Bataraza Mayor Abraham Ibba and El Nido Mayor Nieves Rosento.
DILG Officer-in-charge, Undersecretary Catalino Cuy, has also ordered the withdrawal of deputation of the two mayors, who were included in a list of 23 local chief executives nationwide allegedly linked to drugs.
Cuy told reporters in Manila the named officials are no longer allowed to give orders to their local police or to demand for security detail from them.
He explained that the list were submitted to them by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s (PDEA), which also described those in the list as “narcopoliticians.”
Reacting to her inclusion in the list, Mayor Nieves Rosento in a phone interview with Palawan News flatly denied any link to drugs.
“Hindi po natin alam paano tayo nakasama. Open kami sa investigation. May tinatago ako, my house is open to people, Kung ako ay may tinatago sa drugs , alam ng mga kapitbahay namin yan,” she said.
“Alam ng mga tao na we are living a simple life. Kung ako ay nauubusan, I just borrow money from my staff,” she added.
Mayor Abraham Ibba for his part also denied any drugs involvement and claimed his inclusion in the list was influenced by his political opponents.
“Wala naman akong matukoy na indibidwal na nagsama ng pangalan ko kung hindi ang kalaban sa pulitika. Ang dami ng accomplishment namin sa anti-drug campaign, paano nila sabihin na protector ako,” Ibba told Palawan News in a phone interview.
“Ang pera ko ay galing sa lehitimong negosyo ko. Aayusin ko ito sa abot ng aking makakaya,” he added.
Palawan News sought an explanation from the provincial PDEA office and was told that the list underwent “a thorough investigation.”
“Confidential itong ganitong data pero sigurado kami na dumaan sila sa thorough and intensive investigation bago sila ma tagged as narco-politicians,” PDEA Agent Christopher Torres, told Palawan News.
(with reports from Hanna Talabucon)