Which side are we on?

I am confused.
When Iloilo City was hit by a spate of murders by gunmen riding-in-tandem, apparently upon orders of drug syndicates and their corrupt protectors, there was no outcry.
I was even sued by Jed Patrick Mabilog for libel for labelling him as a crime protector.
And now La Salle and Ateneo communities are being agitated to wear black to protest the so-called extra judicial killings!
Which side are we on?
I know there are vigilante killings. But these have been going on for decades now. It’s not as if Duterte gave birth to it.
But most of the deaths in the war against illegal drugs resulted from legitimate operations.
To prove that legitimacy, we just need to count the number of PNP and PDEA agents who have died in the line of fire.
Those guys who continue to peddle shabu and other illicit drugs are desperate. They will kill to keep on with their trade. They know the authorities are hot on their trail, and they will do business armed and dangerous.
The Duterte administration should not relent on its war against illegal drugs. It must keep up the momentum. This is a fight to the finish.

An enemy from within

There’s no mistaking the fact that the battle against illegal drugs is as difficult as repulsing a foreign invader, or even harder.
That’s because the enemy is hard to detect. The pusher is not just the street pug that was the stereotype in the past. Now even a public school teacher has been caught selling drugs. Barangay officials, too, have been nabbed in buy-bust operations. They are like the Vietcong whom the Americans had to fight half a century ago in the ricefields of Vietnam: by day ordinary farmers, by night fierce warriors.
We have to accept the reality that this battle can be waged in a rule of law setting. As we have seen time and again, drug lords and pushers can afford the best legal minds to defend them in court. And even in jail, they continue to run the illegal drugs trade with impunity.
For this alone, I am prepared to see President Duterte do it with brute force. Of course, he just has to be cautioned not to waste human lives. Just the same, the authorities should not hesitate to use force when it is deemed necessary.

Damage control

JULY 16, 2016 – In his tone and language, it became apparent to me that Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog is now fully aware that his days of philandering at City Hall are coming to a close. And it’s not because of corruption that Mabilog is likely to fall with a big thud. With the graft cases against him caught in the bureaucratic gridlock in the Ombudsman, Mabilog’s downfall will be caused by his close association (read: protection) with drug lords in Iloilo City.

That’s because any day now, President Digong Duterte is expected to reveal the names of 23 local chief executives that he’s found to be connected to the illegal drugs trade, primarily as protectors. Mabilog, who has never been shy about his close friendship with Jesus “Jing Jing” Espinosa Jr., is among the names being loudly mentioned in social media as being on the list.

For the last two weeks, Mabilog has embarked on an effort to repair his notoriety as a drug protector in his own city. He paid for two half-page advertisements in two big national newspapers that spoke about his so-called toughness on illegal drugs. Less than two weeks before Pres. Duterte assumed office, Mabilog staged an “Anti-drug summit” purportedly to send a strong signal that he is waging battle against illegal drugs.

But the effort failed to change the perception. In fact, it only fueled more criticism in social media that Mabilog was just trying to do damage control and persuade Pres. Duterte that his name shouldn’t be on that list. And just yesterday, Mabilog had to admit over a local radio program that his name might just indeed be on the list.

Mabilog gave a lame excuse that it’s just a case of black propaganda against him. He claimed that his track record would prove that he gave PDEA and the police logistical support, including weapons acquisition, to strengthen their fight against illegal drugs and criminality in general.

Mabilog asserted that he’s never been hooked into drugs. He’s never, not even once, toughed illegal drugs to get high, he said.

However, Mabilog seems to be aware that his half-hearted defensive posture is not enough to overturn the strong public perception that he was a coddler of drug lords. Nobody has even accused him of being a drug addict, Joe Marie Agriam, one of his staunch critics, pointed out.

Because of this, Mabilog could only articulate his plea for an investigation and due process. “I am sure there will be an investigation,” he said.

That Mabilog is now in the national spotlight because of his connections to illegal drugs could hardly be blamed on anybody else. He brought it upon himself. For several years now, Mabilog has appeared in public occasions — and everything captured on digital media — in the company of Espinosa, Jr. A kagawad in his barangay (Monica), Jing Jing has been identified by PDEA regional director Paul Ledesma as a key lieutenant of Melvin “Boyet” Odicta, Sr., also known as “Dragon”. Odicta is reportedly head of one of two drug syndicates in Iloilo City.

mag kumpareOpisina ni dabing

Jing Jing son doesnt know how to spend his money

“Can’t decide on how to spend the money”– This seems to be the message on this photo posted by Kap Dabing Espinosa on her FB page and downloaded by fellow netizens and sent over to me.

In the past, Mabilog simply brushed aside criticism that his friendship with Espinosa, and Odicta in the process, was inappropriate behavior for a public official. At one point, he even boasted that he was proud of Espinosa as his bosom friend. Mabilog has stood as godfather to one of Espinosa’s children. He often visits Barangay Monica to attend social events in the place where Jing Jing’s wife, “Dabing”, is the barangay captain.

Now that Pres. Duterte has cracked down on illegal drugs, Mabilog is caught with his pants down, so to speak. He can’t claim that the issue of his friendship with drug lords is false. Too many pictures have captured their closeness.

Each working day is now filled with anticipation. Many Ilonggos are convinced Mabilog’s name will be among the 23 mayors in the list. He is much too prominent in the illegal drugs issue that he can’t possibly wiggle his way out of it. The ghosts of the pasts are now haunting Mabilog.


The year of living dangerously in Iloilo City

The year of living dangerously in Iloilo City

Two persons were seriously wounded just past midnight April 27 when unidentified suspects sprayed this car with automatic gunfire just outside the Western Visayas Medical Center in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.
The car’s owner, Lino Maranon, and a companion were taken to the St. Paul’s Hospital after the ambush in the busy street just 100 meters from the Mandurriao police station.
Police sources say this is apparently the handiwork of guns-for-hire, who seem to enjoy brisk business in a city run by a mayor with close links to drug lords and criminal syndicates.
Ironically, the city mayor is the chairman of the regional peace and order council. (Photo courtesy of Aksyon Radyo Iloilo)

Heavy firepower


City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is always accompanied by Armalite-wielding security men whenever he goes around the city. His favorite place to visit is Barangay Monica, City Proper where Jing Jing Espinosa plays the role of a gracious host.

TNT Libre January 31 edition highlights Jing Jing’s threat

TNT Libre January 31 edition highlights Jing Jing's threat

In a series of FB private messages and blog comments, Jing Jing Espinosa has sent a strong warning against the reportage I’ve been doing on his cases.
Jing Jing is now facing two counts of frustrated murder and one count of attempted murder for trying to kill his own uncles on June 1, 2010.
Jobless, with no legitimate business, Jing Jing has erected a 5-story residence in Barangay Monica City Proper where City Mayor Jed Patrick Escalante Mabilog is a frequent visitor.
Mabilog shrugged off Jing Jing’s dark past as a convicted killer and a reputed drug lord as irrelevant. He said he is proud of their friendship and counts Jing Jing as his number one supporter for his re election bid.

PNP Regional Office 6 asked to probe Mabilog-Espinosa friendship