LOOT GETS NOD TO TRAVEL
Gov. Hilario Davide III says he granted Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot’s request to travel to the US and Canada since there is no case or a hold departure order against the mayor
Is Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot abroad?
He could be, if it would be based on his letter to Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III.
In a letter to Davide dated November 5, the mayor asked that he be granted an authority to travel to Canada and the United States to attend to personal matters.
Loot also asked the governor to be allowed to go on a 30-day vacation leave starting last Sunday, November 18.
In the same letter, Loot explained: “I will be visiting my sickly and aging sisters, attend to the birthday celebration of my sister in Maryland and at the same time spend my vacation thereof.”
Davide said he granted the authority to travel and approved the mayor’s application for a month-long vacation leave on the same week since there are no legal impediments to Loot going out of the
“Wala man siyay hold departure (order) as far as I know kay wala man pod gyud na siya’y kaso (There is no hold departure order against him as far as I know since no charges have also been filed against him). That’s why I authorized him,” Davide said on Wednesday.
In compliance with protocol of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, local chief executives need to seek permission from the governor should they plan to travel or go on leave.
However, there is no confirmation yet if Loot is indeed out of the country now.
Provincial Board Member Sun Shimura, Loot’s stepson, refused to comment if the mayor has already departed for Canada or the US.
Shimura said he has no firsthand knowledge as to the whereabouts and plans of his stepfather.
Loot has stopped going to his office at the municipal hall, amid perceived threats to his safety after he was repeatedly accused by President Rodrigo Duterte to be involved in illegal drug activities.
A retired officer of the Philippine National Police, Loot was one of the five police generals tagged by the President in 2016 as narco-generals. Since then, Loot has not escaped from the President’s tongue, lashing every time the latter would visit Cebu.
Police no rule to play
In the absence of any case against Loot, the police could not stop him from leaving the country, stressed Senior Supt. Manuel Abrugena, the director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office.
“There is no hold departure order to prevent the travel of the mayor hence the law enforcement agency cannot prevent the mayor to go out of the country,” Abrugena said in a text reply to Cebu Daily News.
Just a day before the barangay elections last May, Loot and his family survived an ambush perpetrated by unidentified men on board a white van.
Their party was peppered with bullets as they were disembarking from a motorboat in the town’s wharf as they arrived from Malapascua Island where they attended a feast. The ambush hurt one of the nannies of his grandchildren, his driver and a porter of the wharf.
The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) also recalled the two police escorts assigned to the Mayor since May 21.
Loot earlier confirmed there were sightings of “suspicious Tagalog-speaking men” near his house in Daanbantayan.
Since August this year, Loot was purportedly barely seen in the municipality as he “fears for his life” and was badly affected by the president’s insinuations of his alleged involvement in drugs.
Loot, who is still on his first term as town mayor, has also decided against a reelection in 2019.
Shimura, who is on his third term as provincial board member, is running for town mayor in place of Loot.
Even during the preparation for entry in Cebu early this week of Tropical Depression Samuel, Loot was not present in the coordination meetings of the town’s Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (LDRRMO) and other concerned agencies.
The coordination meetings were presided by Vice Mayor Gilbert Arrabis Jr., who sits as acting Mayor, due to the approved leave of Loot.
Based on the Situation Report of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), at least 144 families in Daanbantayan were evacuated due to the TD Samuel. /WITH CORRESPONDENT BENJIE TALISIC
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