Puerto Princesa vice mayor nabbed in drug raid

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III, an alleged high value target (HVT) in the government’s nationwide anti-hard drugs war, was arrested in a raid inside his home in Barangay Bancao-Bancao Monday dawn.

Joint operatives of the Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group (PNP DEG) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Special Enforcement Service (PDEA SES) handcuffed Marcaida in front of family members after a search yielded 30 sachets of suspected shabu, a .22-caliber rifle, three rifle grenades, a fragmentation grenade, and four .45-caliber pistols.

Superintendent Enrico Rigor of the PNP DEG, formerly PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG), led the 4 a.m. drug bust at the vice mayor’s home along Jacana Road, Bancao-Bancao, this city, with a search warrant issued by Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 53 Executive Judge Reynaldo Alhambra.

PNP DEG operatives standing guard outside the vice mayor’s two-storey house said he will be charged with illegal possession of illegal drugs under Section 11 of Republic Act 9165 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Bancao-Bancao Councilor Alex Marcaida, brother of the vice mayor, told the local media that he believes his brother is innocent of the accusation.

“Syempre nakakalungkot sa part ng family namin. Unang-una, bunsong kapatid ko iyan, mahal ko iyan, at naniniwala ako na hindi totoo iyong mga alegasyon nila dahil simula pagkabata kilala ko na ang kapatid ko. Hindi ko lang alam kung ano ang motibo… iyong… kung sino man ang may pakana nitong nangyayari sa kapatid ko (Of course, this is very sad on the part of our family. First, he is my youngest brother, I love him, and I believe their allegations against him are not true because I know him since his childhood. I just don’t know what the motive is… about… whoever is behind this against my brother),” he said.

Alex said his vice mayor brother only has one registered .45-caliber pistol, while the .22-caliber rifle was inherited from their late father.

“Nananawagan po ako sa aming mga supporters na magdasal po tayo para sa ating vice mayor, sa aking kapatid pagkat lahat ng akusasyon nila ay hindi totoo (I call on our supporters to pray for our vice mayor, my brother, because not all their accusations are true),” Alex said.

Meanwhile, an obviously distraught Monette Marcaida, wife of the arrested vice mayor, said they were shocked when four men wearing bonnets barged into their house.

“Akala namin kung ano lang, nakita ng mga anak ko may mga naka-civilian na naka-bonnet tapos pinadapa kami lahat sa taas… walang kapitan, walang barangay officials, walang media (We thought it was just a minor commotion; my children saw men in civilian clothes wearing bonnets and then they ordered all of us to lie down on the second floor… there was no barangay chairman, no barangay officials, no media),” Monette said as she denied her husband is keeping drugs and guns in their house.

Vice Mayor Marcaida’s name was implicated as an HVT after a recorded tape by Puerto Princesa City Police Office director, Senior Supt. Ronnie Francis Cariaga that mentioned him being such, was obtained by a local radio station and played on air.

The raid came following last week’s filing of a recall petition against him by supporters of his former political ally, Mayor Lucilo Bayron. Celeste Anna Formoso/PNA-northboundasia.com