CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Rumors circulating that a town mayor in Misamis Occidental was arrested following a raid in his home that reportedly yielded firearms was false, according to the provincial police.
Col. Danildo Tumanda, Misamis Occidental police provincial director, debunked reports that Oroquieta city mayor Jason Almonte’s residence was raided by law enforcers and even vouched for the local chief executive.
“He (Almonte) is a law-abiding citizen,” Tumanda said in a phone interview.
The provincial police’s declaration clearing Almonte came weeks after the mayor was in Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s alleged narco-list.
Almonte was the 32nd of the 44 local government officials allegedly involved in illegal drug trade based on the President’s list, which was released to the public on March 14, 2019.
He was one of the four political leaders on Duterte’s narco-list from Misamis Occidental, which also included Sinacaban mayor Crisinciano Mahilac, Calamba mayor Ezel Villanueva, and Clarin mayor David Navarro.
Tumanda said when the list of supposed narco-politicians came out, Almonte went to the Misamis Occidental provincial police office and surrendered his firearms.
Tumanda did not say how many of Almonte’s firearms were in their custody but the police chief said these are all licensed.
He said Almonte’s turning over of his weapons was an act of “good will” and that he wanted to show to authorities he was sincere in his support to the Duterte administration’s war against drugs.
Tumanda said it appeared that some individuals twisted Almonte’s surrender of his firearms and spread rumors that his house was raided some two weeks ago.
Based on the documents and testimonies they have gathered, Tumanda said there was no indication that Almonte was indeed involved in the narcotics trade.
He added that of the more than 16,000 drug surrenderers in the province, not one of them pointed a finger at Almonte as either a drug protector or dealer.
Even former Philippine National Police chief and senatorial candidate Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa has cleared Almonte from the accusation that he is a drug user, during a campaign rally in Tangub City on April 3.
A news report said Almonte, upon learning that he was on Duterte’s narco-list, subjected himself to a drug test, which, the report added, “yielded negative results.”
The drug test result, it added, was issued by Dr. Vernon Nery Jr., chief of the Calamba District Hospital in Misamis Occidental.
Almonte is running as a congressman in Misamis Occidental’s first district, after serving three consecutive terms as Oroquieta mayor. (davaotoday.com)