SCotabato mayor detained for guns

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COTABATO CITY: The mayor of Banga in South Cotabato who was arrested during a raid on Thursday for possession of bullets and a rifle grenade was detained on Friday at the town’s police detention facility while waiting for the court’s decision on his motion to post bail.

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He was transferred to Banga from General Santos City, where he was processed by agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

According to police, Mayor Albert Palencia will remain under detention pending his petition for bail before the Regional Trial Court of Region 12.

“I hope I can post bail today so I will be out while the case is pending in court,” said Palencia who was accused of being a drug and gambling lord, an allegation that he denied vehemently, saying this is politically motivated.

The PNP-12 Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (RAIDSOTF) on Thursday raided Palencia’s house after a local court issued nine search warrants.

Police confiscated four bullets for caliber 380 from the house and a rifle grenade from his piggery in Barangay Punong Grande, also in Banga.

Authorities said Palencia was No. 3 on the list of President Rodrigo Duterte’s second batch of narco-politicians.

Palencia denied he owned the bullets and the rifle grenade.

While inside the detention cell, he was visited by his fellow mayors Pablo Matinong, president of the South Cotabato League of Municipalities (LMP), and Mayor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. of the municipality of Tupi.

“I have never been involved in illegal drugs, our town employees for the past four years know that pretty well.“I am supportive of the government’s anti-drug campaign,” Palencia said.

Aside from his home and piggery, the police also searched his six luxury vehicles including a US-made Dodge Ram pick-up and a Hummer.

No drugs were found in any of the vehicles.

“The raid also clears my name, the police found no drugs in my house and that erased intelligence information that I am a drug lord and that I maintain a drug laboratory,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Fuentes said the raid on Palencia’s house was expected.

“I told him his name has been on the narco-list. I asked him to surrender but he refused, saying he was not hiding anything.”

JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL

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