South Cotabato 'narco-mayor' arrested

Francis Canlas, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 03 2016 11:34 PM | Updated as of Nov 04 2016 01:26 AM

Anti-drug operatives speak with Banga, South Cotabato Mayor Albert Palencia during a raid on his home. Photo courtesy of RAIDSOTG 12

(UPDATED) Armed with a search warrant, police raided the home of an alleged narco-politician in South Cotabato early Thursday morning.

Combined forces of the Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operation Task Group 12 (RAIDSOTG 12), Regional Intelligence Division, and Regional Public Safety Battalion of Region 12 searched for firearms, illegal drugs, and explosives inside the room of Banga, South Cotabato Mayor Albert Palencia.

The mayor volunteered to open his vault but police only found jewelry and money.

The raiding team, however, discovered ammunition in the mayor's cabinet and a rifle grenade in Palencia's farm.

It prompted the filing of a case of illegal possession of ammunition against Palencia, who immediately posted bail, police said.

According to police Supt. Maximo Sebastian, chief of RAIDSOTG 12, they suspect that someone may have leaked information to Palencia, allowing him to clean his home of contraband.

Palencia was among the alleged narco-politicians named by President Rodrigo Duterte in his drug list.

“Different law enforcement agencies po ang nag-validate [ng umanong pagkasangkot ni Palencia sa iligal na droga]. Matagal na po natin siyang minamanmanan. Pina-revalidate na po natin ang information na nakuha natin,” said Sebastian.

(Different law enforcement agencies validated information of his involvement in the illegal drug trade. We had him under surveillance for some time. We revalidated the information we got.)

Palencia refused to give a statement, but said in an interview with ABS-CBN News on July 20 that he spoke with Interior Secretary Mike Sueno to clear his name.

“Pinatawag niya ako para tanungin kung totoo ba [na kasama ang] pangalan ko [sa drug list], kasi marami na ang nagsabi na nagbebenta ako, may laboratory ako ng shabu. Sinabi ko kay SILG na chismis lang yun,” Palencia said.

Palencia’s brother, former Polomolok councilor Engineer Bernie Palencia, said he hopes the raid will clear his brother’s name.

“Ako in a positive way, nakita namin na sa family namin, it is high time na malaman ng publiko, ng buong bayan ng Banga, lalawigan ng South Cotabato, even the entire country na walang illegal activity iyong kapatid ko. As early as now, ma-clear na ang pangalan ng kapatid ko,” he said.