The City Prosecutor’s Office in La Carlota City in Negros Occidental may proceed with the preliminary investigation on the allegation made by a drug suspect linking Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and former Local Government secretary Manuel Roxas II in the illegal drug trade in the Visayas, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Wednesday.
Aguirre said the affidavit submitted by Ricky Serenio, a confessed bagman of the Berya drug cartel, tagging the two Liberal Party stalwarts as protectors of notorious slain drug lord Melvin Odicta Sr. could be considered a formal complaint.
“The charges can undergo preliminary investigation,” Aguirre told reporters.
The Justice secretary said the National Bureau of Investigation would not be able to conduct a fact-finding investigation on the charges because President Rodrigo Duterte has already transferred the authority to pursue drug cases to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
“The NBI might not be the proper agency because it is now the PDEA that is the lead agency. The President’s order specifically instructed other agencies to forward information or anything to PDEA, and then it’s up to PDEA to make appropriate request to a particular agency,” he said.
Aguirre made the statement in reaction to the affidavit submitted by Serenio to La Carlota City prosecutor’s office in Negros Occidental last Oct.18.
In his affidavit, Serenio accused Drilon and Roxas of partnering with Odicta to control “the illegal drug business in the Western Visayas-Panay/Negros… by kicking out Berya Tolentino and Camaria group from their dominance as local drug suppliers.”
“Being in power with close association to the PNP, it was easy for the Roxas-Drilon tandem to paralyze, and eventually overthrow the Berya-Camaria drug operations and wipe out these groups from operating in the Negros Island,” read the affidavit furnished to the Department of Justice.
With the ouster of the Berya-Camaria duo, Serenio said Drilon and Roxas could turn over the drug operations in the region to Odicta.
“Indeed, the Negros market is bigger than in Panay or Iloilo, as confirmed in the declaration of President Duterte that the NIR is No. 3 as the most drug affected in the country,” Serenio said.
Odicta and his wife Meriam were shot dead by unidentified assailants last Aug. 29 upon their arrival at the Caticlan Jetty Port in Aklan.
Serenio also claimed that Drilon and Roxas were not only protectors of Odicta, but are also patrons of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who protected the illegal drug operations of Odicta.
“Mayor Mabilog is the indefatigable protector/strong supporter of the former drug lord Melvin Odicta Sr…,” he said.
President Duterte earlier publicly accused Mabilog of protecting drug lords, a charge which the mayor has denied.
Mabilog has yet to return to the country after supposedly seeking medical treatment abroad.
Last January, Serenio–identified as a level three drug personality, who operates in the city, province and region–tagged several local officials and police in their illegal drug trade.
He alleged that 15 commissioned officers and at least 20 non-commissioned officers in the city and the province protected their operations.
Two media practitioners and members of the PDEA also received “payola” from him, he added.
He also revealed the involvement of some personnel of the NBI and court employees, who directly receive payola from “the boss” he refused to name.
Serenio said P30,000 to P125,000 weekly were given to police chiefs based on the number of drug dependents in their areas of jurisdiction in exchange for protection while P50,000 each were given to the two media practitioners.
He added that the drug money given to the police chiefs enabled them to disregard the other members and allies of his boss’s group.
Lastly, he disclosed that they give P50,000 to P500,000 to a police official to negotiate the release of their member arrested in a police operation.