Admin ‘out to demonize’ LP to ‘divert attention’ from pressing problems

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Senate Minority leader Franklin Drilon and former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II

MANILA, Philippines — The Liberal Party accused the administration of “going all-out to demonize the party in the eyes of the public” with drug allegations against leading members to “divert attention from the pressing problems of the country.”

The opposition party raised the charge a day after Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said an affidavit executed Ricky Sereño, the confessed bagman of the so-called Beria drug group in Negros, could be used as the basis for a complaint against Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

Sereño claimed Drilon, Roxas and Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog.were involved in a plan with the late Melvin Odicta Sr., the alleged Iloilo-based drug dealer who was killed in August last year, to funnel drugs into Negros. Mabilog, who has been openly accused by President Rodigo Duterte of links to Odicta, has gone on leave and is out of the country.

But the LP said the attempt to link Drilon and Roxas to the drug trade, which followed “efforts to link the party to destabilization,” were meant to distract from national problems “such as rising prices, extrajudicial killings, and corruption, including drug smuggling at the Bureau of Customs.”

“It appears this administration has the habit of manufacturing ‘witnesses’ who have questionable record and reputation,” it added, pointing to the convicted felons who were used to testify on Senator Leila de Lima’s supposed links to the drug trade  in the New Bilibid Prisons, for which she is detained and facing trial.

The LP also accused the Justice Department of “dagdag-bawas” (padding and shaving) of evidence depending on whether an accused was an ally or foe, citing the alleged bribe given to former Immigration commissioners that turned out to be exactly P1,000 short of the P50 million minimum to qualify as plunder.

Both the former officials — Al Argosino and  Michal Robles — are members of Lex Talionis, the law school fraternity to which Aguirre and President Rodrigo Duterte belong.

“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 (crystal meth) that has slipped past the scrutiny of Customs officials,” the LP said.