Police clears SouthCot mayor after anti-drug raid

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 12 Sept) – The Police Regional Office (PRO)-12 has cleared the mayor of Tampakan town in South Cotabato of any legal liability following an anti-drug raid at his home on Monday morning that yielded several high-powered firearms.

Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr., PRO-12 public information officer, said Tuesday Mayor Leonardo Escobillo was cleared after presenting legal documents as proof of ownership for the six recovered firearms and assorted ammunition.

The raiding team also found no illegal drugs.

Galgo said these were a unit of caliber .45 Norinco pistol with live ammunition, a caliber .40 Taurus pistol with loaded ammunition, two carbine rifles, a shotgun, an AK47 rifle, and assorted magazines and ammunition.

The firearms were recovered during an anti-drug raid at the mayor’s house in Barangay Maltana in Tampakan town around 6 a.m. on Monday.

The operation was based on 15 search warrants for possession and selling of illegal drugs, maintenance of a drug den, and illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives issued by Judge Alandrex Betoya of the Regional Trial Court Branch 16 in Kabacan, North Cotabato.

The warrants were implemented by operatives from the PRO-12’s Regional Drug Enforcement Unit, Regional Public Safety Battalion, 1st and 2nd Maneuver Company, Tampakan municipal police station.

But Galgo said the mayor’s son, Leonard “Junjun” Escobillo, is facing charges of illegal possession of firearms after a caliber. 45 Taurus handgun loaded with eight live bullets and with expired license was seized in a separate raid at his home in Purok 6, Barangay Maltana.

Also recovered were 18 rounds of live ammunition and two pieces of steel magazines, he said.

“He was arrested for not having presented legal documents to vouch ownership of the confiscated items,” he said in a statement.

Galgo said Leonard is currently detained at the Tampakan municipal police station lockup pending the filing of formal charges.

Sr. Insp. Harold Cornel, Tampakan police chief, noted that Mayor Escobillo, who is currently on his third term, was not arrested after the raid.

The raiding team declared as unlicensed the two carbine rifles seized from the mayor’s residence. The mayor denied owning them.

“Only Leonard is in our custody right now,” Cornel said.

He said Leonard, who was reportedly eyeing the mayoralty post in the 2019 elections, had been serving as the mayor’s secretary.

Mayor Escobillo condemned the raid and denied any involvement in illegal drug trade and related activities.

The mayor blamed politics as behind the raid, which he said was based on “wrong information” fed to authorities.

“I will face this challenge and at the same time, continue serving the people of Tampakan,” he said. (MindaNews)

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