PNP: Bizmen are also on narco-list

POLITICIANS and law enforcers are not the only persons who tangle in the illegal drug trade.

Even prominent businessmen are involved too, said Police Brigadier General John Bulalacao, Western Visayas police chief.

Bulalacao said they are monitoring several businessmen who use their legitimate business as front for illegal drugs.

Bulalacao said he received a list of businessmen who are suspected illegal drug financiers in the region.

He showed some of the names saved on his mobile phone.

Several businessmen on list had Chinese-sounding surnames. They could also be operating in several cities such as Cebu and Bacolod City, the list showed.

“They, too, are subject of our validation, just like politicians and law enforcers who are giving protection (to illegal drugs),” Bulalacao said.

Bulalcao’s statement came in the heels of reports that at least 13 politicians in Western Visayas are in the latest narco-list.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 6 (PDEA-6) said the list came from the Inter-Agency Drug Information Database following months of validation.

Alex Tablate, PDEA-6 regional director, said the PDEA national office sent the list to ascertain the extent of the politicians’ alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.

Of the 13 politicians, seven are reportedly seeking elective posts in the 2019 midterm elections.

When asked if the list comes from them, Bulalacao said they are now aware of the 13 politicians.

“We do intelligence monitoring and we submit the result to our higher headquarters,” he said.

Even those who were part of the old narco-list, the ones mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in August 2016, are still being monitored.

But most of personalities in the 2016 list appear to have “slowed down” in the illicit trade.

“Sa old list, wala kaming monitoring ng kanilang activities because while we have been doing validation, their names are no longer cropping up that they are continuing their operations except for some,” he said.

But Bulalacao said these personalities cannot be cleared of their alleged links to the illegal drug involvement.

He cited the cases of Mayor Mariano Malones and Vice Mayor Francis Amboy of Maasin, and Mayors Alex Centena of Calinog, and Siegfredo Betita of Carles, Iloilo; and Julius Ronald Pacificador of Hamtic, Antique.

“Their names are on the list but based on our intelligence operations, hindi na lumalabas ang kanilang pangalan,” Bulalacao said.

One of the reasons is they could have stopped.

“Another reason, they could change modus operandi for policemen not to follow their track,” he said.

On his level, Bulalacao said he could not say that they are no longer involved

“But it’s not for me to declare that they’re involved or no longer involved in the illegal drug trade. We do make recommendations, though,” he said.

Bulalacao said it is simply not on their level to declare who should be cleared and who should be included in the list.