Iloilo local chief execs summoned to Malacañang

BY GLENDA SOLOGASTOA

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ILOILO City – After threatening to kill local chief executives linked to illegal drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte summoned the country’s mayors, including those from Iloilo, to Malacañang for a meeting today.

An invitation coursed through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), however, did not state the agenda, said Ajuy, Iloilo’s Mayor Jett Rojas, president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Iloilo chapter.

“As long as I’m President, big shabu dealers will die and the next batch would be these mayors. I will call them and lock them up,” said Duterte in a speech in Malacañang on Monday.

August last year, Duterte linked four Iloilo mayors, including this city’s Jed Patrick Mabilog, to the narcotics trade as protectors.

The three other Iloilo mayors he named were Alex Centena of Calinog town, Siegfredo Betita of Carles and Mariano Malones of Maasin.

Duterte also called out Mayor Julius Ronald Pacificador of Hamtic, Antique.

Rojas said Iloilo mayors are heeding Duterte’s summon.

Centena, however, may not be able to make it to Malacañang today, said Rojas, citing unspecified health issues.

The Palace meeting with the President starts at 2 p.m. today. Rojas said he had no idea what the President will be discussing with them.

In his speech on Monday, the President said, “I will talk to them. With the thick document I showed you, I will tell them: ‘Look for your name there, mayor, you son of a b**ch. If your name is there, you have a problem. I will really kill you.’”

The President said local chief executives in his drug list better resign, stop their illegal activities, or die.

There are 145 city mayors and 1,490 municipal mayors in the country. Western Visayas has three city mayors (Iloilo City, Roxas City, Passi City) and 95 municipal mayors.

It is not unusual for a president to summon mayors, said Rojas, and likened it to mayors summoning barangay captains to a meeting.

“He may discuss with us the direction of his administration,” said Rojas.

Iloilo province has 42 municipal mayors and city mayor (component city of Passi).

Rojas said health issues also prevent Mayor Adolfo Jaen of Leganes, Iloilo from attending the Malacañang meeting today.

Guimbal’s Mayor Oscar Garin will also not make it, added Rojas, but for still unclear reasons.

According to the DILG, the President is exercising his power of supervision over local chief executives.

When he named Iloilo mayors as coddlers of drug traffickers last year, Duterte quickly clarified, “Wala akong personal sa kanila, ha. Wala itong pulitika.”

Duterte recalled that when he was still campaigning for president in Iloilo, the people were “almost (desperately)” asking help from him, saying, “Mayor, ang droga.”

“Just pray. Just pray that I will win, and maybe, in the fullness of God’s time, I would take care of this problem,” he recalled saying in response.

Mayors Mabilog, Centena, Betita, and Malones all denied involvement in illegal drugs either as user, pusher or coddler./PN