Alleged Surigao Norte narco politicians deny role in drug trade

Erwin M. Mascariñas, InterAksyon.com

BUTUAN CITY – Two of the alleged narco politicians from Surigao del Norte who were named by President Rodrigo Duterte denied their involvement in the drug trade when they appeared at the Regional Police Office 13 (PRO13) headquarters in Butuan City Sunday afternoon.

Former Surigao del Norte 2nd District Representative Guillermo Romarate Jr and former Alegria Mayor, now Mainit municipal health officer Dr Jessie Aguillera were shocked at being tagged narco politicians, and said they went to the police to clear their names. 

“I am here today to cooperate; my number one purpose in coming here is to clear my name, second is to tell everyone that I am not involved in drugs. I will admit that Herbert Colangco is my nephew but we are not even close because I was against his illegal activities. Never ever did I go to Manila and accept his invitation because I was afraid that if I [do so], I might tarnish my name,” said Romarate. He cited an incident when Colangco allegedly fired at his office several years back.

“I’m surprised why my name was involved and other . . . .politicians' names were not included, when in fact it is very clear who are really involved in drugs here. I hope that a proper investigation would be conducted to clear our names,” said Romarate.

He suspected "there is something behind this so-called narco politics and why our names are included, but I will leave it to the investigation of the Philippine National Police to discover,” and added it was premature for him to give details about his theory.

Active in anti-drugs drive

Aguillera, who is working as a municipal health officer, was also shocked on hearing she was part of the list, since she last served as mayor in 2007.

“I can’t believe that my name would be related to these activities. During my incumbency between 1998 to 2007, I’ve never been involved in such. I am even the municipal health officer and have been active in the anti-illegal drugs campaign, going around in the education campaign against drug abuse . . .  talking about the dangers of drugs,” said Aguillera.     

“I’m here because I’m not guilty, I’m here to follow the rule they made, since I’m afraid of what was said -- that there will be a shoot-to-kill order after 24 hours, and so I am alarmed since I do not have any body guard or I don’t even own a firearm.  I haven’t been in politics for nine years now; I’m just a government employee,” said Aguillera.  

Chief Superintendent Rolando Felix, director of PRO13 said an immediate investigation would be made.

“We will follow the rule of law and a proper investigation will be conducted. There will no shoot-to-kill order; we are following police operational procedure in bringing in these alleged drug personalities. We are also looking at more names to come out in the course of the investigation,” said Felix.

Romarate will be turning over to PRO13 seven firearms to prove his cooperation. (Interaksyon.com)

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