MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) will treat as a complaint the affidavit of a top drug personality in Negros Region Ricky Serenio tagging Mar Roxas and Senator Franklin Drilon in the drug trade.
“If sa city prosecutor (nai-fle), parang complaint na ‘yan (if it was filed with the city prosecutor, then it’s like a complaint), then we would be duty bound to act on it,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said in a news conference on Wednesday, October 25.
Serenio’s affidavit was received by the Office of the City Prosecutor of La Carlota City in Negros on October 18, according to the scanned copy that Serenio himself emailed to local media.
Serenio is out on a P720,000 bail for charges of illegal possession of explosives, illegal possession of firearms and grave coercion. He did not have a drug charge despite admitting to paying off politicians and officials to protect his group, the Berya Group in Negros Occidental.
Serenio accused Roxas and Drilon of attempting to take over Berya Group as drug trade leader in Negros in 2015.
Serenio said the scheme supposedly involved Roxas, Drilon, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog and so-called Iloilo’s top drug lord Melvin Odicta.
Serenio said it was Melvin Odicta who approached him of the Roxas-Drilon plan to “penetrate the illegal drug market in the entire Negros Island.” Odicta and wife Merriam were shot dead in Aklan in August 2016.
“Sometime in 2015, I had a meeting with Melvin Odicta where he informed me that Roxas and Drilon wanted to penetrate the illegal drug market in the entire Negros Island, knowing for a fact that the then Negros Island Region was No. 3 in the entire country as the most drug affected region,” Serenio said in his affidavit.
Fake news, says Roxas
On his Facebook page, Roxas shrugged off the Serenio affidavit as a “poor and laughable attempt at fake news.”
“I don’t know nor have I any dealings with Serenio nor Odicta; as in zero. I have been and am anti-illegal drugs and the record of arrests, confiscations and buy bust operations by the PNP during my time at DILG will show this,” Roxas said.
Roxas added: “I hear PDuterte is visiting Negros this weekend. This is an attempt by mga local KSP to get his attention and curry favor with him.”
Duterte attended Bacolod’s Masskara Festival celebration on October 22.
Serenio’s statement against Roxas was similar to the accusation of convicted drug lords accusations that got Senator Leila de Lima jailed – that he used drugs to campaign for the 2016 elections, where he ran and lost for president.
“I was assured by Melvin Odicta that there was nothing to worry about Mar Roxas and Franklin Drilon giving us political protection, because it was the two of them who actually gave marching orders to raise funds in order to subsidize the election campaign expenses of Mar Roxas,” his affidavit said.
“Anyway, ang mga taga Western Visayas kilala ako, kag ang akon pagkatao, ang akon pamatasan kag ang akon pamilya…Waay ako sang kasimanwa nga magapati sina nga gin himo-himo nga istorya. Klaro nga wala na gid sila ma akusar sa akon gani pilit sila naga imbento isyu,” Roxas said.
(Anyway, those from Western Visayas know me, my person, and the conduct of my family…I don’t know anyone who would believe in a made-up story. It’s clear that they cannot accuse me of anything so they’re trying so hard to invent an issue.)
Drilon is still in the United Kingdom, and his camp has not responded to a request for comment.
Serenio said Odicta was supported by Mabilog, who is still on leave. Mabilog went on leave shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte reassigned Police Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido to Iloilo City, although this was later canceled.
On Wednesday, Duterte threatened Mabilog with a warning of “you’re next” after admitting that it was him who ordered the fatal raid on former mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr of Ozamiz City.
Aguirre said that due to Duterte’s directive assigning the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as the sole agency to carry out the war on drugs, they may need the PDEA’s permission to move.
Aguirre was referring to the action that may be undertaken by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which was under the DOJ.
But when reminded that the affidavit was submitted to the City Prosecutor’s Office, Aguirre said they are “duty-bound to act on it.” – With reports from Marchel Espina/Rappler.com
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