Catanduanes gov denies drugs link

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Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua on Wednesday vehemently denied being involved in illegal drugs following the discovery of a shabu laboratory in Virac province on November 26 this year.

In a news conference in Quezon City, Cua said the allegations against him “have political colors.”
“It’s time for me to be heard to clear my name. I am clean and innocent and my family is already affected,” Cua said.

Cua’s name cropped up during the Senate hearing on illegal drugs when Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th asked Kerwin Espinosa and Ronnie Dayan if they knew the governor.

“Sinabi naman nilang hindi nila ako kilala (They said they do not know me),” Cua said.


He added that he was not yet the governor when the warehouse that was turned into a shabu laboratory was built.

“Nang itinayo po ang warehouse, taong Marso 2015 hanggang Setyembre 2015 – hindi pa po ako ang gobernador ng Catanduanes kundi si Araceli Bernardino Wong. Naging operational po ito mula Marso 2016 at tumaas ang konsumo sa kuryente mula P1,500 hanggang P50,000 bawat buwan,” (When the warehouse was built in March to September 2015, I was not yet the governor of Catanduanes, it was Araceli Bernardino Wong. It (shabu lab) became operational in March 2016 and its electricity bill jumped from P1,500 to P50,000 a month),” Cua explained.

He said the operators of the shabu laboratory used their plastic manufacturing business as a front until the police raided the warehouse in November.

The governor said the illegal laboratory stands on the 40-hectare property under the name of Sarah Sarmiento which was leased by Angelica Balmadrid. Cua said 1,000 square meter of the land was rented by Jason Gonzales Uy, who is believed to be the operator of the laboratory.

“Naintindihan ko pong kailangan isailalim kami sa imbestigasyon pagkat pag may shabu lab na ganito ay hindi nga naman pwedeng walang protector o walang nakakaalam. Sana naman ay imbestigahan din yung mga nakaraang opisyal ng lalawigan noong itong shabu lab ay itinayo at naging operational nung panahon nila.

Kaya’t hindi rin talaga maalis sa akin na hinahaluan ito ng pulitika,” (I understand fully that an investigation must be carried out to determine who is the protector of the laboratory. But I hope that the officials who came ahead of me should also be included because it was during their time when the shabu lab was established. It is natural for me to think that there’s politics behind reports linking me to drugs,” Cua said.

He added that he is willing to cooperate with any investigation and that he wrote Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre requesting an independent body to go to Virac and conduct an investigation.

He said it is possible that some unscrupulous personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation may have had a hand in the release of Uy and other Chinese suspected to be behind the shabu lab.

“May unconfirmed reports tayo na iyong sasakyan ni Jayson Uy na Fortuner, ang dating may ari nito ay isang NBI agent na si Carlos Borromeo,” (We have unconfirmed reports that a vehicle of Jayson Uy, a Toyota Fortuner, was previously owned by an NBI agent, Carlos Borromeo) Cua said.

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