SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 07 August) – Five mayors and three vice mayors of Maguindanao who were named by President Rodrigo Duterte early Sunday morning as among those allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade presented themselves before the provincial police chief hours later, claiming they are innocent and are ready to face investigation.
Without their regular heavily-armed Army and police escorts and mostly male relatives and supporters, the local officials showed up one after another at the office of Senior Supt. Nickson Muksan, Maguindanao police director based in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.
First to arrive at around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday was the couple Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan and his wife, Anida, the town’s Vice Mayor.
“We are most willing to clear our names, follow the process and let the truth come out at the soonest possible time, we are most willing to cooperate with the President on this issue” Mayor Dimaukom told MindaNews.
Father and Son from Datu Montawal town — Mayor Vicman and his father, Vice Mayor Utto, arrived at around 10 a.m.
“I hope those who tagged our name will be haunted by his conscience,” the vice mayor, the town’s former mayor, told MindaNews.
“We vehemently deny our involvement in the drugs trade. I am convinced those behind these accusations are people who envy us,” he said.
Shortly after 11 a.m., Ampatuan Mayor Rasul Sangki arrived together with some relatives, but declined to comment on his inclusion in Duterte’s watchlist.
At around 1 p.m., brothers Talitay Mayor Montasir Sabal and Abdulwahab, the vice mayor, came in a black SUV and a convoy of supporters.
Of the local officials, only one admitted to having engaged in illegal drugs “but that was long time ago.”
“I was into it many years ago when I was still a policeman but I stopped since I was elected as mayor,” Mayor Sabal had earlier told MindaNews.
Sabal was elected to his third and last term as mayor last May.
He expressed concern that some groups may ride on the situation and file separate charges to pin them down.
Last to arrive was Datu Salibo Mayor Norodin “Franco” Salasal who said he was surprised his name was on the list.
Salasal said a lifestyle check would show he is not a druglord. “I don’t have even my own house. I can assure that even if media people will investigate deeply about my lifestyle and way of living,” he said.
Muksan said all the local officials will go to Manila and present themselves to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General Rolando dela Rosa on Monday, August 8.
“They are going there and by 8 a.m. they should be in Camp Crame,” Muksan said.
“I cannot provide them with police escorts neither join them personally because that is the instruction from higher ups.” (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)