ARMM politicians under surveillance from PDEA

COTABATO CITY – - More than ten politicians in the region are included in the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PDEA-ARMM) order of battle, a high-ranking anti-narcotics official here said.

Speaking during Thursday’s Lugawan sa Kalinaw forum here participated in by various law enforcement agencies, Cielito Llanu, PDEA-ARMM deputy director, said that they are continuously watching local politicians involved in the illegal drugs trade and would pounce on them in the opportune time.

“Narco-politics still exists in the region. These politicians use drugs to get rich quick and use the money for their political ambitions,” Llanu said without hinting on the identities of the narco-politicians.

He said the province of Maguindanao and adjoining Cotabato City remains as a major transshipment point for illegal drugs coming from Marawi City and the Lanao area.

Although not part of ARMM, this city is included in the PDEA-ARMM area of responsibility due to its proximity to Maguindanao province.

The ARMM comprises the cities of Marawi and Lamitan and the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Basilan and Lanao del Sur.

Last Oct. 19, cops operating a checkpoint along Barangay Tamontaka Mother here seized from three suspects some P7-million worth of shabu, an illegal substance, while entering the city proper aboard an Isuzu Elf truck.

Llanu said while charges for violation of Dangerous Drugs Act (RA 9165) were filed against suspects Tato Felmin, his wife Alma, both of Barangay Kalanganan, Cotabato City and Fahad Guiapar, of Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao for shabu possession, all three have remained silent over the source of the drugs.

All three suspects have remained locked up at the PDEA-ARMM detention facility in this city.

ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia said they have earlier sent a communique to the Department of Justice for a special court that would hear drug cases in the region but the latter is yet to reply on the request.

“We need to do something about this (drug) menace,” she said.

Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr., in a separate interview, sustained the PDEA-ARMM report citing “big people, including politicians” are behind the drug problem here.

“This drug problem is everybody’s concern. That is why I am urging every Cotabateño to do their share in cleaning the city with drugs as the next victim could be their children,” the mayor said.

Guiani, since his first term as mayor in 2010, has declared an all-out war against illegal drugs in the city. (PNA)

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