Press Release
November 27, 2015

Nancy calls for probe of Iloilo media harassment by drug group

Senator Nancy Binay urged the Senate to investigate the increasing abuses of drug groups active in Iloilo City after armed men attempted to take over a radio station in the city.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 1673 yesterday, Senator Binay condemned the alleged attack on Aksyon Radyo - Iloilo last November 19, 2015 as a "crime against press freedom."

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) - Western Visayas has concluded the incident to be drug-related as the radio station had a program, Aksyon Night Patrol, that aired critical commentaries on the proliferation of illegal drugs in the province.

"This particular attack is a brazen attempt to harass the media from exposing the truth about the illegal drug activities in Iloilo City. Nakakagambala ang pananakot na ito dahil pinapakita ng mga grupong ito na wala silang respeto sa ating ang mga otoridad. Hindi dapat nating hayaan ang ganito," the lady senator said.

The PDEA has identified the Odicta and Prevendido groups as the two major organized illegal drug groups operating in Iloilo.

According to reports, the attempted break-in happened after midnight, at 12:50 a.m., when a group of around 20 armed men tried to enter the premises of Aksyon Radyo station in Iloilo City. The attack was caught on closed circuit television (CCTV).

PDEA - Western Visayas identified Melvin "Boyet" Odicta, alleged leader of the Odicta drug group, as one of the armed men in the CCTV footage. An Iloilo City councilor also identified another barangay official among the armed men.

Aksyon Radyo station manager John Paul Tia was quoted that the attack might have been caused by broadcaster Jun Capulot's commentary on his program, "Aksyon Night Patrol, that evening.

According to reports, Odicta was sentenced to life imprisonment for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act (Republic Act 6425) but is now free. It remains unclear how he was released from prison despite his life sentence.

Some Iloilo government officials were also reported to be involved in illegal drug trade. In 2013 and 2014, several barangay officials of the province were arrested in joint Philippine National Police - PDEA buy-bust operations. According to the Department of the Interior and Local Government - Western Visayas, out of 1,721 barangays in the Province of Iloilo, 375 have been identified by the PNP as drug-affected.

"Katulad nga ng sabi nila, ang drugs ay kanser sa ating lipunan. Hindi dapat nating hayaang patuloy nitong sirain ang buhay ng ating mamamayan, lalong-lalo na ang dangal at integridad ng mga opisyal ng ating pamahalaan," said Senator Binay.

"It is the duty of the Senate by policy or by law to address the proliferation of illegal drug trade in the country and to enhance further the efficacy of the law against dangerous drugs," the lady senator concluded in her resolution.

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