- Former PDEA chief Dionisio Santiago claimed that Aquino and Ochoa were given the list of 23 “drug” mayors
- Dionisio said they had filed charges against these local officials but lost
- He lamented that all the cases were dismissed either by the prosecutors or the judges
MANILA, Philippines – Former President Benigno Aquino III was fully aware of the existence of 23 mayors who are allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade in the country; this was the revelation of former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief retired Gen. Dionisio Santiago.
However, the former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff said the government eventually lost the cases against these individuals. Dionisio claimed that during his stint at PDEA, the agency managed to file cases against the 23 mayors but all were supposedly dismissed either by the prosecutors or by the judges.
“We simply lost the cases. After we were able to arrest their people who implicated them, we could not do anything when the case had been dumped,” The Manila Times’ Jaime Pilapil quoted Dionisio as saying during an interview at the sidelines of a news conference in Manila on Monday, July 11.
Dionisio bared that the list of government officials allegedly involved in drugs was given to Aquino and former executive secretary Paquito Ochoa who then heads the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission.
“They [Aquino and Ochoa] knew these individuals. We provided them with the list like Amante, Alcala, Asistio, Ablan, Cuenca and Soon,” Dionisio recalled, but did not give the first names of the mayors he mentioned.
He added that even a former head of the National Youth Commission (NYC) is also in the watchlist for allegedly protecting drug syndicates.
Earlier, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa warned that President Duterte may soon reveal the names of the 23 mayors in the list; the copy of which is now in the hands of the new Chief Executive.
“The President has the list of these local executives involved in illegal drugs. I can’t reveal their identities, only the President can make public their names,” Dela Rosa said.
Meanwhile, one of the accused mayors denied his link to an illegal drug ring following reports that he has succeeded a relative in taking over the operations of illegal drugs in Quezon province.
Lucena City Mayor Roderick Alcala said he is planning to file appropriate charges against the publication who accused him of coddling drug lords.
“My only sin, if it’s a sin, is I have a close relative who has links to the illegal drug trade. I can choose my friends but I can’t choose my relatives,” he reiterated to Inquirer.
Alcala is a nephew of former Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala whose brother, Cerilo, was arrested by PDEA in 2008 after being suspected of being a big-time drug lord in the province.