(UPDATED 2 – 9:50 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — Anti-narcotics agents raided the home of a town mayor in Sarangani province, seizing drugs, firearms, bombs and a list of suspected partners in the illicit trade, including the late mayors Reynaldo Parojinog of Ozamis City and Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte, radio report said.
Although Mayor Aniceto “Jojo” Lopez managed to evade the raiders, apparently after being tipped of the operation, he had reported sent word that he would surrender at midday, according to Aaron Aquino, chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, who flew to Sarangani to supervise the raid and the inventory of seized contraband.
PDEA Region 12 director Gil Cesario Castro said a kilo of crystal meth, or “shabu,” ecstasy pills, laboratory equipment and other drug paraphernalia, guns and bombs.
Aquino also said agents found a “greenbook” with a list of names, including those of alleged “narco-politicians,” going back to 2015.
But aside from Parojinog and Espinosa, both of whom were killed by police, Aquino declined to disclose the other names supposedly in the list.
Lopez, who had not been among the local government officials publicly accused of drug links by President Rodrigo Duterte, has also been tagged as the alleged “protector” of the local terror group Ansar Khalifa Philippines, whose leader Mohammad Jaafar Sabiwang Maguid, alias “Tokboy,” was killed in a police operation in January.
The group, which professed allegiance to the Islamic State in 2015, has been accused of attacks in General Santos City, South Cotabato and nearby areas.
Reports indicated that Sen. Manny Pacquiao convinced Lopez to surrender. Then Pacquiao turned him over to the PDEA.
Pacquiao is the chairperson of the local political party People’s Champ Movement (PCM) in Sarangani. However, Lopez is not a partymate.
Lopez will likely face illegal firearms and explosives possession charges aside from those for violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
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