Drug claims vs Roxas, Drilon part of admin's diversionary tactic – LP

MANILA, Philippines – The Liberal Party slammed the drug allegations against its stalwarts, former LP presidential bet Manuel Roxas II and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, as part of the Duterte administration's plan to "demonize" its key members and to "divert" attention from the issues hounding the government.

"This latest drug allegation against prominent members of Partido Liberal clearly proves that this administration is going all-out to demonize the party in the eyes of the public and to divert attention from the pressing problems of the country, such as rising prices, extrajudicial killings, and corruption, including drug smuggling at the Bureau of Customs," the party said in a statement on Thursday, October 26.

"Instead of swallowing the words of the so-called bagman and wasting time on this new controversy, the administration can better use its time investigating and finding the culprits behind the entry of P6.4 billion worth of shabu that has slipped past the scrutiny of Customs officials," it added.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II earlier said the Department of Justice (DOJ) would treat as a complaint the affidavit of Ricky Serenio, a top drug personality in Negros and alleged bagman who accused Roxas and Drilon of attempting to take over the Berya Group as drug trade leader in Negros in 2015.

Serenio said the scheme supposedly involved Roxas, Drilon, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog, and alleged Iloilo top drug lord Melvin Odicta, who was killed in August 2016.

Drilon has yet to respond to the accusations. Roxas shrugged off Serenio's claims as a "poor and laughable attempt at fake news."

'Manufacturing' witnesses, 'dagdag-bawas'

The LP denounced Serenio's testimony as "baseless." It also slammed the Duterte administration's "habit" of manufacturing witnesses, citing the case of detained LP Senator Leila de Lima, the fiercest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: Bilibid inmates cleared of drug charges, turn state witnesses vs De Lima)

"It appears this administration has the habit of manufacturing 'witnesses' who have questionable record and reputation, just like what it did to Senator Leila de Lima, who is now languishing in jail due to testimonies of convicted criminals serving jail sentences," the party said.

The LP also condemned the DOJ for its seeming "dagdag-bawas (addition-subtraction)" of evidence, citing the missing P1,000 from the P50-million bribe at the Bureau of Immigration to evade plunder charges against two Lex Talionis fraternity brothers of Duterte and Aguirre.

"There seem to be incidents of 'dagdag-bawas' of evidence at the Department of Justice. Adding evidence for those considered as foes, and subtraction for friends," the LP said.

Duterte has repeatedly criticized the LP and its leaders, including former president Benigno Aquino III. Duterte has insisted that the LP or the "yellows" are part of a destabilization plot against him despite the repeated denial of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the existence of such a plot. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.