Leviste denies involvement in illegal drug activity

Ex-Batangas Gov and ex-convict Antonio Leviste presents evidence before the DOJ denying involvement in the illegal drugs trade

NO KNOWLEDGE. Ex-Batangas Gov Antonio Leviste denies ownership of land where illegal drugs were seized by authorities. Photo by Buena Bernal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Former Batangas Gov and ex-convict Antonio Leviste said on Thursday, January 9, that he does not own the ranch in Lipa City where suspected drug dealers were arrested on Christmas Day.

In documents presented to the justice department, Leviste said the ranch is now owned by the Running Spring Real Estate, Inc. The amended Articles of Incorporation of the real estate company, also submitted by Leviste, shows that the former governor is not among its incorporators.

Intelligence reports gathered by authorities link the illegal drug activity in the land to one of the world’s most notorious drug traficking syndicates – the Sinaloa drug cartel. (READ: PH arrests 3 linked to Mexico drug cartel)

The Philippines has been tagged as one of the key transit points in the global illegal drugs trade.

In a sworn statement submitted during preliminary investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the former husband of Senator Loren Legarda also denied knowing, meeting, or wanting to meet the lessee of the land who was identified as Jorge Torres.

“I have been needlessly dragged into this case, my family’s name and reputation tarnished and besmirched, and my conditional freedom as a parolee placed at risk,” Leviste said in his affidavit

Leviste was granted parole in December 2013, after serving a prison term for killing his employee Rafael de las Alas in 2007.

Leviste’s parole is being reviewed, however, upon orders by no less than President Benigno Aquino III. While in jail at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, Leviste was allowed to leave the compound on several occasions. Prison officials were punished after this was exposed.

De Lima has admitted there might have been lapses in granting the conditional release by the Board of Pardons and Parole.

Just as the review of Leviste’s parole began, policemen seized the ranch that he  allegedly owns, claiming it was being used as a shabu laboratory. De Lima said Leviste’s status as a parolee may be affected if proven that he tolerated the illegal operations. – Rappler.com