EXTENDING martial law in Mindanao will not only help security forces press their offensive against the ISIS-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf Groups but at the same time keep ‘narco-politicians’ operating in the region on the run, Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa said.
The PNP chief bared that President Duterte’s decision to declare martial law in Mindanao in the aftermath of the Maute attacks in Marawi City last May 23 also literally forced ‘narco-politicians’ to either flee the region or totally stop their illegal activities.
During a talk with his officers and men in Bicol region last week, the PNP chief said politicians believed to be involved in illegal drug trafficking activities in Mindanao suddenly went missing after martial law was imposed.
He did not say how many Mindanao politicians were monitored by the police to have suddenly disappeared or are believed to have stopped their illicit activities afraid of being arrested but President Duterte had previously said that many local government executives in different parts of Mindanao are included on his list of ‘narco-politicians.’
There were reports that most names on the President’s list are from Mindanao and Metro Manila and some of them are mayors and councilors.
Shortly after he won the 2016 presidential polls, President Duterte revealed his list of ‘narco-officials’ which includes 159 incumbent and former local executives and lawmakers, judges and uniformed personnel suspected to be involved in the illegal drug trade.
Gen. Dela Rosa again stressed that there will be no let-up in the Duterte government’s war on drugs.
“We will live and die in this war against drugs. There would be no compromise. Even if you are a member of the PNP, the NBI or a politician, you will be arrested if you are involved in drugs,” he said.
The PNP chief said there is no need to waste the precious advantage achieved by the government in the crackdown against drugs over the past 12 months and even cited wide public approval about the ongoing war versus narcotics based on actual surveys and talks with the ordinary Juan dela Cruz.
Operations to account for remnants of the Maute Group in Marawi City and other parts of Mindanao have so far yielded millions of pesos worth of shabu and cash.
Last month, security forces conducting ‘house-to-house’ search found two kilos of suspected high-grade shabu worth P10 million inside the abandoned house of a former Marawi City mayor who is also one of 125 persons ordered arrested for allegedly supporting the ISIS-inspired Maute Group.
The huge volume of drugs were found on the 2nd floor of the house of ex-Marawi City Mayor Omar Solitario Ali which is located two kilometers away from the main ‘combat zone’ in the city. Ali has been described as a ‘financier’ of the Maute Group.
Ali is still being tracked down by the Armed Forces and the PNP. He will be facing charges for illegal possession of drugs under Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The discovery of the drugs came five days after Army soldiers recovered 11 kilograms of suspected shabu valued at P550 million inside a Maute lair in the city. Army troops also seized P79-million cash and checks from one of the houses occupied by the gunmen since May 23.
Security troops have been conducting mopping-up operations in Marawi City looking for more weapons, ammunition and drugs stashed by the Maute group.
President Duterte earlier maintained that drug money was used to finance both past and present terrorism activities in the Philippines, not so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) funding from the Middle East.