PNP probes possible leak in drug raid vs S. Cotabato mayor

PNP probes possible leak in drug raid vs S. Cotabato mayor

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY, November 4, 2016 (PNA) — Police are investigating possible “leaks” on the anti-drug raid on Thursday against a municipal mayor of South Cotabato province who was included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s list of alleged “narco-politicians.”

Superintendent Maximo Sebastian Jr., chief of the Police Regional Office-12’s regional anti-illegal drug special operations task group (RAIDSTOG), said police are looking into the possibility that Banga Mayor Albert Palencia might have been alerted of the operation before it was launched around dawn on November 3, 2016.

The mayor was arrested in a raid at past 3 a.m. at his house and piggery in Barangay Punong Grande in Banga town.

The raid yielded four live rounds of caliber .380 handgun and a rifle grenade.

The operation, which was backed by 18 search warrants, mainly targeted illegal drugs, firearms, ammunition, and explosives allegedly kept by Palencia.

But Sebastian told reports that the place “was already cleaned up before we arrived.”

“We are suspecting that there was a leak (about the operation),” he said.

Sebastian said Palencia, who is on his second term as mayor of Banga, was named in the “list of government officials involved in the proliferation of illegal drugs.”

He said the list was based on intelligence information obtained and validated by the Philippine National Police (PNP) central office, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and other concerned agencies.

Sebastian said the mayor’s camp might have anticipated and prepared for the raid based on the successive operations launched in the past weeks.

Libungan, North Cotabato Mayor Christopher Cuan, who was also included in the list of “narco-politicians,” was arrested last week in a raid staged by the RAIDSOTG.

On October 10, two barangay chairmen of Polomolok town in South Cotabato were also nabbed in separate operations.

“They might have been alarmed and possibly stashed their firearms and other illegal items in other places,” Sebastian said.

Palencia was initially brought by the RAIDSOTG to Camp Fermin Lira here but was later transferred to the Banga Police Station.

He was charged with violation of Republic Act 10591 or possession of ammunition and explosives.

As of 9 a.m. today, the mayor said in a radio interview that he is still waiting for the resolution from prosecutors as to whether the charges filed against him are bailable or not.

Palencia claimed that the recovered items from his house and piggery were “planted.”

He also maintained that he is not engaged in any illegal activity, especially in the illegal drug trade, and that the accusation was based on speculation.

“I had been accused of operating a drug laboratory and selling shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) but those were just unfounded rumors,” he said.

In July, the mayor presented himself to Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno to deny the accusations. (Allen V. Estabillo/PNA)




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