Parang mayor denies involvement in drug trafficking

Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte named him as the "mayor from Maguindanao" who leads one of two major groups engaged in the illegal trade in Mindanao.

Duterte told a jampacked session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) Tuesday afternoon that Abu is one of two main sources of metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, transported from Cotabato City to Davao City passing through Kabacan in North Cotabato and Digos City. The other source is one "Dong Sinsuat" from Kabacan, North Cotabato, he said.

Of the 21 in Duterte's list, seven were arrested in 2004 and two had been killed. Duterte said they could not file charges against the rest for lack of evidence.

Abu was one of the mayors from Maguindanao who challenged Duterte to identify who the latter referred to in news reports as involved in the illegal drugs trade. Duterte announced the involvement in drug trafficking of a "mayor from Maguindanao" on October 1.

Abu, in a live interview with Cotabato-based DXMS radio Wednesday, said he has not been involved in trafficking and branded the allegation as a "recycled case".

Abu said he swore before the Holy Qur'an in denying the allegation.

He said he had a similar encounter with Duterte in the past. Duterte said Abu had been arrested for illegal drugs trade while he was still vice mayor of Parang four to five years ago "pero pinalaglag ang kaso" (but they worked for its dismissal). By whom, Duterte did not say.

Abu said he has nothing against and fully supports Duterte's anti-drug campaign. But he said the allegation against him has "no basis".

He also told DXMS that he will not file any case against Duterte for he (Duterte) was only doing his job.

Abu said he is willing to be investigated to clear matters.

Duterte, who was asked by a reporter about Abu’s alleged willingness to meet and talk with him, said he would decline the offer. On Thursday, however, he said he could meet with Abu after the Ramadhan.

Duterte announced they would charge this week police officers  Enrique Ayao, Jr.

and Arnold de Chavez with administrative and criminal cases. Ayao and De Chavez were accused of helping Abu push the drugs to slain suspected drug dealer Luis Francisco. 

Duterte, who cited strong evidence against the two, is batting for summary dismissal of the officers from the city’s heinous crimes division.

Duterte said Wednesday Abu is still free to come to Davao. "But he will be subjected to a search. I'll strip him naked," he said.

Duterte said he has no civil or criminal liability for reporting about the suspected drug lords even without evidence. He said he has done so as summoned by the city's legislators.

The summons was approved by the city council only three hours before Duterte spoke at the session. (Walter I. Balane with reports from Malu Manar/MindaNews)