PHILIPINES: VALENCIA MAYOR DISPUTES ALLEGATIONS ON DEATH SQUAD
VALENCIA, Bukidnon -- Mayor Jose Galario is suspected of being the brains behind a death squad responsible for the summary killings of nine alleged illegal drug pushers operating inside and outside Valencia City.
Galario denied such allegations, saying he condemns summary executions of the suspected drug pushers for he believes that due process of law should be observed.
Newly installed PNP-Bukidnon provincial director Archie Gamboa vowed to "totally eradicate" this vigilante group called Anti-Drug Advocate
(ADA) within one month regardless of who are involved.
Gamboa, who is also a lawyer and a top Philippine Military Academy graduate, requested both pro-ADA and anti-ADA radio broadcasters for an "absolute" radio blackout on this ADA issue that has so allegedly divided Valencia City for this entire month.
He told 50 Bukidnon journalists that he is willing to be lambasted on a 24-hour basis should he fail to crush ADA. Such an agreement was arrived at during the city peace and order council (CPOC) special meeting last Wednesday with the one-month timetable ticking off starting Thursday.
Bukidnon Governor Jose Zubiri called for "calmness" amongst his Valencia City constituents on this issue saying he is "very confident"
that Gamboa can very well keep his words.
Several residents and radio broadcasters here voiced suspicions that Galario could be the brains behind the ADA group as the Valencia City mayor and his spokesman Pete Janao seem to have prior knowledge as to who would be the next ADA target.
They said Galario's block time radio program dubbed "Bull's Eye"
broadcasted the names of suspected illegal drug pushers that are sometimes allegedly sent via text messages and read on air.
Radio Mindanao Network dxVR broadcaster Joas Dignos together with several other radio commentators and city residents have raised questions as to how some nine alleged drug pushers have been summarily executed the day or two after their names have been broadcasted over Galario's radio program.
During the CPOC special meeting, Galario admitted that people suspect that ADA is his brainchild.
"Kabalo ko ako man kanang gipasabot (I know they suspect me of being the ADA mastermind)," he said particularly mentioning Dignos's comments.
But Galario and Janao separately denounced talks of them being involved in illegal drug activities and ADA vigilante killings saying only their anti-drug campaigns are aired during that Bull's Eye radio program.
They claimed that the radio program has become instrumental for 700 illegal drug pushers and users to "surrender" to their city anti-drug council (CDAC) and be under "rehabilitative" care.
When asked as to whether he would put a stop to these ADA killings and whether he would file charges against the members of this death squad, Galario replied that there is also no such thing as an ADA group.
"Wala namay ADA gidakop na man sila ang uban nanagan naman kinsa pamay atong file-lan ug sumbong? Kanang ADA atik-atik lang dili kana sila organized (There is no longer any ADA as they have been arrested while some of them already took off so who is left for us to slap charges against? The ADA group is not organized but merely a joke)," the mayor said.
But Galario nevertheless later said ADA exists but it has only killed three drug pushers.
"Sakay sa panahon raman kadtong uban (The other killings of suspected drug pushers were merely initiated by some copycats who took advantage of ADA's reputation)," he said. "I don't want ADA to be implicated in the killings."
Galario, Janao and several other City Hall officials took turns hitting at Dignos for his "unethical and below the belt" comments about them being involved with this ADA group during the CPOC special meeting.
Dignos kept his silence saying the CPOC gathering is not the proper forum and that he has documents and witnesses to back his claims.
RMN area manager James Jadormio also defended Dignos and his Bukidnon staff saying they initiated an "investigative reporting" on the ADA issue before going on air.
Galario and several other officials still kept on hitting Dignos and on how the latter should be "disciplined."
A city information employee even wanted to play a tape he personally recorded containing Dignos's comments that could also form part of the basis of whether the radioman should be judged as following the ethical or unethical standards.
To stop the already four-hour long heated discussion, Gamboa put his foot down saying Dignos should not be put on trial and there is no need to play a tape record of the radioman's commentaries on this ADA issue.
He said the law states that only the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkasters ng Pilipinas (KBP) or the court can discipline radio commentators.
Gamboa who was just installed last month said they should instead find a solution on these ADA killings together.
He then offered to "totally eradicate" the ADA in one month time and at the same time requested that all pro-ADA and anti-ADA radio commentators to stop airing ADA-related stories.
"Give us a chance. I assure you all no matter how deep it is we will not stop until we eradicate ADA. Atong undangon ang ADA kung kinsa may maligsan pasyensya (We will stop ADA and if it would mean running over some people then we will do so)," he said. "Give us one month and I guarantee that you will feel the police enforcement here."Edited by: Alfa