Reelected brgy chair nabbed in drug raid

Bandera (Mindanao) - - NEWS -

MAKILALA, NORTH COTABATO—Agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) arrested a village chief in this town for drug possession on Wednesday, two days after he was reelected in the barangay elections.

Armed with a warrant, PDEA agents in Central Mindanao region barged into the house of Malasila village chief, Melvin Fortajada, at 3:30 a.m. and recovered at least five sachets of suspected “shabu” and three bullets for .45-caliber pistol. No gun was found.

Fortajada, however, denied the items were his. “All the evidence had been planted. This raid is politically motivated,” he said. Surveillance

Fortajada was not on the PDEA list of suspected narcopoliticians in the village but he had been placed under surveillance before the raid, according to a PDEA agent.

Fortajada’s wife, Helen, told reporters that the P20,000 the family was keeping in the house was missing after the raid.

But the PDEA agent said all recovered items had been inventoried in the presence of witnesses, including reporters. “No money was found during the raid,” the agent said.

Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde, PNP chief, had warned suspected narcopoliticians who won during Monday’s elections that they would not be spared from the government’s antidrug campaign.

“Victory is not an excuse,” Albayalde said in a press briefing in Camp Crame. “If they are really i nvolve d [in illegal drugs], then, they will be subjected to operations,” he said.

Smear campaign

In Zamboanga del Sur province, reelected village chief Mohibat Pagayao of Barangay Old Labangan in Labangan town raised concern over the planting of evidence.

“I fear that in such other incidents, there will be a ‘shootout’ and they will plant evidence in my area,” said Pagayao, who was on the PDEA list of village narcopoliticians made public a week before the elections.

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