A town mayor in Sarangari province was turned over to authorities Friday, hours after a raid found illegal drugs and a mini-shabu laboratory in his rest house.
Sen. Emmanuel Pacquaio brought Maasim Mayor Anecito Lopez Jr. to operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). Lopez supposedly called the senator to seek help.
Lopez surrendered to Pacquiao in the lawmaker’s home in General Santos City at 12:30 p.m., authorities said.
“Nagpadala siya ng feeler na gusto niyang sumuko ng mapayapa. Mas mabuti `yon kaysa sa may mangyari sa kanyang masama (He sent a feeler that he wanted to surrender peacefully. It was better than something bad happening to him)” Pacquiao said in a statement.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said his men were outside the house of Pacquiao when Lopez surrendered following the raid in the mayor’s seaside rest house in Lumasal village, Maasim, early on Friday
Agents discovered a mini-shabu laboratory and some P5-million worth of suspected shabu. They also found a green book believed to contain information on drug transactions.
Anti-drug operatives were unable to arrest Lopez who sneaked out of the property before the raid.
The PDEA tagged Lopez as head of the “El Patron Drug Group” that allegedly supported the Islamic State-linked Ansar Khalifa Philippines, and the New People’s Army.
The agency said it would file charges against Lopez for multiple cases of illegal possession of drugs and firearms.
According to the statement issued by Pacquiao’s office, the senator convinced Lopez to surrender to the authorities to avoid complicating the situation.
“When he called up, I advised him to surrender. Dapat niyang harapin ang anumang kasong isasampa laban sa kanya (He has to face whatever cases will be filed against him),” Pacquiao said in his statement.
Lopez is a supporter of Pacquiao but is not a member of the People’s Champ Movement, a local political party led by the boxer-turned-senator.
“All the local officials in my home province knew my stand when it came to illegal drugs trade and corruption. Once they get embroiled in any illegal activities, they cannot expect help from me,” Pacquiao said.
The senator denied reports that he tried to negotiate for Lopez to surrender, noting that it was the mayor who contacted him first.