Fortun: Odicta didn’t give 'drug matrix' to gov’t, lawyers

MANILA, Philippines – One of the lawyers of slain Iloilo businessman Melvin Odicta on Tuesday, August 30, denied rumors that his client had turned over to his lawyers a “matrix of those involved in illegal drugs.”

“There is a rumor that, before Melvin Odicta died, he had given a matrix of those involved in illegal drugs in Iloilo to his lawyers,” said lawyer Raymond Fortun in a statement to media.

He added: “These are dangerous mind games intended to either: (1) rattle those who had earlier been named in the President's list, or (2) to justify their deaths AND even the death of Odicta's lawyers. ‘Tinira 'yan ng mga (He was killed by) drug associates’ would be the convenient excuse.”

Odicta and his wife Merriam were gunned down early morning Monday in Aklan, a few days after they presented themselves to Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno in Camp Crame.

The interior department, in an advisory to media, said Odicta and his wife would “reveal his own matrix of other personalities involved, including senators, congressmen, and other local officials.” The couple did not.

“Melvin Odicta executed a sworn statement before the CIDG last August 25, 2016, but he categorically stated that he was not a drug lord, nor was he known as ‘Dragon,’” said Fortun.

“Melvin Odicta did NOT submit any matrix of drug personalities to the DILG, PNP, or his lawyers,” he added.

Odicta was supposedly part of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s list of known drug personalities in the province of Iloilo. Police have long monitored Odicta’s alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade, but through the years had been unsuccessful in producing evidence to pin the businessman down.

Asked why he decided to issue the statement to media, Fortun said in a text message to Rappler: “So that the media can report the rumor circulating in Iloilo, my response thereto and so that if anything happens to me, for the media to believe anything that the PNP says.”

In his statement, Fortun hinted heavily at threats against his own life. Emphasizing that he has “lived a clean life free from drugs or gambling,” the lawyer said: “If I am gunned down, do not believe that it is the handiwork of the drug associates of Odicta. Please do your duty to seek the truth if the unthinkable happens.”

Asked if he had been getting death threats, Fortun said he had been “warned to limit my movements.” –