Drugs a big issue in mayoral race
Illegal drugs, and how officials handled the scourge, will matter much in the May polls.
There is a whale of a difference between Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon and former Mayor Rey Uy, who are contesting the city’s top post, on how they tackled the menace by the horn to protect the people of the city.Uy, during his term and after, was hounded by allegations of human rights violations for his iron-fist campaign against illegal drugs.
Rellon, on the other hand, is hounded and continues to be hounded by allegations of inaction against drug abuse and the invasion of drug peddlers in his city.
To make matters worse, it has been confirmed that there are drug users and peddlers in Rellon’s City Hall.
Based on an operation against illegal drugs, there is suspicion that drug syndicates may also have already penetrated City Hall’s civil security unit.
This fear was raised as anti-drug operatives arrested Jonas Rellon, no less a relative of the sitting mayor and a member of the Tagum City Security Management Office, during a buy-bust operation in a hotel in Tagum City on November 12 last year.
Jonas Rellon was among six people, including alleged members of a big drug syndicate based in Marawi City, arrested by operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
That a relative of the mayor was into illegal drugs should be an indictment that should guide voters in May.
How Rellon reacted to such an incident should not matter. What should is that if he is helpless against illegal drugs, he is more helpless against kith and kin who could be involved in illegal drugs.
Compared to Uy’s time, Rellon’s tenure has shown a steep rise in incidence of drug use and dealing, according to records of the Phiippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
PDEA Region Eleven said that Tagum City is now a “strategic trans-shipment point” for illegal drug trade in the Davao Region.
In a scene captured on video and aired on television after the anti-drug operation, Rellon repeatedly punched Jonas.
Rellon’s stunt, a copy cat of how Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte treated arrested drug pushers, sparked jokes that badly damaged the mayor who has said that his anti-drug campaign would spare no one not even relatives, but one of them shamelessly ending up in company with drug dealers during a buy-bust operation.
The five other suspects arrested with Jonas during the buy-bust operation in a room in the hotel reportedly used as a shabu den were Angelito Fueren, Sairel Salva, Christian Delmo, and two unnamed minors. The group, initial police investigation showed, is connected to a drug syndicate in Marawi City.
Shabu worth around P180,000, drug paraphernalia, firearms, and a grenade were confiscated from the group.
What death squad?
Former Mayor Rey “Chiong” Uy denies claim by Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international human rights group, that he was behind the death of suspected criminals during his term from 2007-2013.
In a 71-page report released two years ago entitled “Death Squad Killings in Tagum City,” HRW claimed that 298 murders were attributed to the so-called Tagum Death Squad from January 2007-March 2013 at a time Uy was still the mayor of Tagum City.
The report draws heavily on interviews and affidavits from three self-proclaimed members of the alleged death squad who claimed to have taken part in the killings.
Uy said the alleged witnesses were paid by illegal gamblers and drug syndicates to make false testimony to HRW. During his time, Uy was known for his campaign against gambling and drugs.
Uy said he suspects that syndicates running illegal drugs and illegal gambling in Tagum city would be behind new accusations against him.
Uy is staging a political comeback and is running for mayor against incumbent Mayor Allan Rellon.
“They don’t want me to return to power because if I come back, they will lose their businesses,” he said.