Cop chiefs tight-lipped on Rama’s entry in list

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Nestle L. Semilla August 08,2016 - 11:51 PM
IN HIS DEFENSE. Former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama says he will hold a press conference today for updates on his case.   (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

IN HIS DEFENSE. Former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama says he will hold a press conference today for updates on his case.

Police officials were tight-lipped about former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama’s inclusion in President Rodrigo Duterte’s watch list of drug lord protectors and coddlers.

Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, Police Regional Office chief, said he didn’t provide the Philippine National Police with the list of alleged drug protectors in Cebu and the rest of Central Visayas.

“Even before I assumed my post (last July 4), there was already a list that was submitted to Camp Crame,” he said.

Taliño said he has another list of police officers who coddle illegal drug groups, but they are still under validation.

He said Rama and the other persons named by President Duterte last Sunday can prove their innocence.

“They will still be investigated and they will have their day (to answer the accusations),” Taliño said.

His predecessor, former PRO chief Patrocinio Comendador, neither confirmed nor denied Rama’s inclusion in the list he saw during his term.

“I can’t comment on that aside from the fact that I’m no longer in a position to answer that,” he said.

“Such reports are confidential and except for the president who has immunity, no officer for that matter can disclose documents or information that are deemed confidential,” Comendador said.

Cebu officials were mixed in their reactions to President Duterte naming Rama and some officials in the province as alleged drug lord protectors.

Cebu City Councilor Sisinio Andales said he wasn’t surprised while Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said he was shocked when the president named Rama among the drug lord coddlers in last Sunday dawn’s TV disclosure.

“The drug links was the biggest issue raised against Rama. So it is now clear since it was President Duterte who named him,” he said.

Andales, who’s allied with the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK), said he didn’t know who was on the list prior to the President’s announcement.

“But Team Rama kept busy floating speculations in social media that Mayor Tommy (Osmeña) would leave the country for fear that he would be named as a drug protector by Duterte,” he said.

Cebu Daily News called Rama who said he was in Manila yesterday.

Rama denied trying to meet President Duterte and refused to disclose what he was doing there but said he will hold a press conference today.

Andales said he thinks that naming suspected narco politicians in public is an effective deterrent and that he believes that Rama’s inclusion in Duterte’s drug watch list is no hoax since the president won’t name anyone without basis.

Davide said he was surprised with the president’s announcement.

He said he thinks there were two former Cebu mayors who are actual coddlers of drug lords but were not included in the list.

“As far as former Mayor Rama is concerned, di ko katuo gyud kay kaila man ko niya (I couldn’t believe it because I know him). I found it unbelievable. We were together in the city council for nearly two terms when he was vice mayor,” he told reporters yesterday.

But Davide said the president may have basis for naming Rama and other persons as drug coddlers.

“I don’t know where he is getting the information, maybe intelligence reports,” the governor said.

Davide said he cannot speak for San Fernando Vice Mayor Fralz Sabalones since they ran under different parties during the last elections.

Davide said charges should be filed against those named as drug lord protectors.

“This is like the sword of Damocles, it affects not just the person and even his or her family. The accused will be given a chance to clear their names and prove their innocence,” he said.

The provincial office of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Cebu said without any order Sabalones and Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot will continue to hold office.
“But the instruction of the president was also clear, they have to do something to clear their names. They can continue functioning until they are out of office or if there is any directive to that effect,” DILG Cebu Provincial Director Jerome Gonzales said.

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