Cebu mayor linked to drug trade faces DILG

Ryan Songalia
Cebu mayor linked to drug trade faces DILG
Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot says he is waiting for the DILG order on his case to prepare his defense

MANILA, Philippines – Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot appeared before the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday, July 8, to present his side after President Rodrigo Duterte linked him to the illegal drug trade.

Loot, who retired from the Philippine National Police (PNP) in July 2015, met with Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno a day after he arrived in Camp Crame to meet with PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

Loot is one of the 5 PNP generals accused by the President of coddling drug lords. The  National Police Commission is investigating the 3 who are still in active duty.

As a local government official, Loot falls under the jurisdiction of the DILG.

The former police official said there was some initial confusion on which agency has jurisdiction over him, since the allegations stemmed from his days at the Philippine National Police.

“But now, since I’m retired, PNP has no jurisdiction over me. DILG also has a problem because the allegations again are not part of my present position,” he told reporters after his meeting with Sueno.

But he said he had already submitted myself to the DILG’s jurisdiction in investigating the allegations against him, and he is now waiting for the order to prepare his defense.

“I hope the details would be given me. The secretary said I should wait for the order to prepare my affidavits. I said I’ll do that once I receive the accusations….I said, send me the order to answer the charges, to be given the chance to confront these charges,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

In a statement, Sueno said that he has already instructed DILG lawyers to gather facts for the investigation on Loot.

“I have given instructions to [the lawyers] to gather as much evidence as they could to determine the culpability or innocence of the generals, and if the evidence warrants, to build a solid case against [the generals],” Sueno said.

 


Alleged drug links

Two days after naming the 5 generals allegedly involved in the drug trade, the President also named 3 top Chinese drug lords, and claimed that retired Police Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr is protecting some of them.

Peter Lim or “Jaguar,” one of the 3 drug lords named by Duterte, is allegedly behind drug operations in the Visayas.

Loot said that he was friends with a Peter Lim, but added that he was not sure if he is the same person named by Duterte.

Loot said that the Lim he knew – with whom he is no longer in contact with – had also been dragged into the controversy on illegal drugs, but was not facing any cases during the time that he knew him.

The mayor also reiterated that the allegations against him, including his supposed unexplained wealth, had been previously raised by political opponents in his northern Cebu town. (READ: Cebu town mayor: ‘No dealings with drug lords’)

Loot’s wife, Maria Luisa, was mayor Daanbantayan for 15 years. 

Their joint 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) showed that they had P70 million worth of assets, but Loot said that most of the properties were owned by his wife and acquired even before they were married.

He also said that the Ombudsman had already cleared him of allegations of unexplained wealth last year. – Rappler.com

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