Duterte sees link between illegal drugs and Leyte blast
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte believes that the twin blasts at a Leyte town plaza on Wednesday, December 28, are related to illegal drugs.
Duterte made the statement in an interview with ABS-CBN on Thursday, December 29, when he discussed how his schedule often changes because of developments such as the blast that hurt at least 33 people in Hilongos town.
"There was an explosion in Leyte. Drug-related. And they're having a turf war there," the President said.
He added that he would have to go to Leyte after he leads the Rizal Day commemoration on Friday morning, December 30, to visit the victims.
Leyte authorities are also eyeing drug syndicates in their investigation of the twin blasts.
In Tacloban City, Brigadier General Raul M. Farnacio, commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division, said there is no presence of any terrorists in Hilongos town.
Farnacio said the police and the military are looking into the possibility that the bombing incident was a retaliatory move of a drug syndicate against the police.
"The arrest of some drug personalities in recent weeks is seriously affecting their operations, and such violent reaction is just another desperate action by organized group," he said.
On October 22, police arrested Raidah Ampaso Sarip and other drug personalities in Hilongos town as part of the crackdown on the illegal drug trade in the area.
Leyte Vice Governor Carlo Loreto condoled with the victims and their families.
"We stand with you in this trying times. We are in this together. We are saddened that despite the holidays, something as extreme as this could happen," he said.
He assured the public that the local government is "taking all necessary measures to prevent another act of terrorism."
"We request the public to be cautious, vigilant and to report to authorities information that will help us nab the people behind the attack. Despite this difficult fight, we are positive that we will make significant progress on the investigation," Loreto said. – Jazmin Bonifacio/Rappler.com