Loot in hiding, fears for his life
FOR about three months now, Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot could hardly be seen in the municipality.
He could neither be reached through phone for an interview.
His stepson, Cebu Board Member Sun Shimura, said Loot has decided to shy away from the eyes of the public to protect himself, his family, and his constituents.
“Wala nay gawas-gawas si mayor ron. Wala na gani siya nag-estar sa balay kay dili siya gustong maamong ang iyang pamilya o bisan kinsang tawo sa iyang palibot. (Mayor has not been going out to public places and is no longer staying at home because he doesn’t want anything bad to happen to his family and other people near him),” Shimura told Cebu Daily News.
The board member, however, stressed that Loot still functions as mayor of Daanbantayan town and has been attending to paperwork in a place he declined to reveal for reasons of safety.
Loot, he said, has also sent persons to represent him in the different activities and gatherings of the municipality.
Shimura said Loot and his family were badly affected by insinuations of President Rodrigo Duterte that the mayor was involved in the illegal drug trade.
He said Tagalog-speaking men have been looking for him in Daanbantayan town, and Loot, a retired police general, feared that these unidentified individuals were sent to assassinate him.
“I have not seen my stepdad in person for a few months now. We just talk over the phone or through video call,” Shimura said.
Shimura appealed to President Duterte to give his stepdad the chance to prove his innocence by conducting an investigation against the mayor.
“The President is a lawyer and a former prosecutor. I hope he will give my stepdad due process of law. We have many investigating agencies and it would be good if an investigation will be conducted instead of just threatening him in public,” he said.
“We’re afraid other people may take advantage of the situation and kill my stepdad,” he added.
In his visit to Cebu City last Tuesday, President Duterte again publicly called out Loot in his speech, saying the latter was just wasting people’s funds in studying at the Philippine Military Academy only to end up becoming a drug protector.
“Ilang beses ka na na-ambush. Matatag ka talaga. Huwag mo ako takutin. (You’ve been ambushed a number of times, and yet you survived. You’re really strong. Do not threaten me),” said President Duterte in a profanity-laden outburst.
Shimura said it seems that Loot won’t have the chance to prove the President wrong since there has been no investigation conducted against his stepdad.
“We’ve been asking for an investigation, and we’re open to anything. We’re even wiling to sign any waiver for our bank accounts so that the public will know that we have no ill-gotten wealth,” he said.
In November 2016, Loot said he was investigated by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group after he was publicly identified as a drug coddler by the President.
He said he was told that he was already cleared on three aspects: drug links, failure to implement the anti-drug programs in his municipality and unexplained wealth.
Loot ran for mayor of Daanbantayan last May 2016.
He won against then incumbent Mayor Augusto Corro by a margin of just seven votes.
But in July 2016, he was publicly identified by President Duterte as among the country’s top illegal drug coddlers.
Last May 13, unidentified armed men fired at the pumpboat that he and his family were boarding while it was docking at the port in Barangay Maya, Daanbantayan.
Two drivers, a nanny of Loot’s grandchildren, and a porter standing nearby at the dock area were wounded.
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