The Department of Justice has ordered an investigation into the alleged involvement of Governor Joseph Cua and Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes in the operation of the shabu laboratory at a big warehouse in Palta Small.
Of course, the two officials, who were not yet in power when construction of the warehouse and its subsequent operation by Chinese suspects began, are welcoming the probe. They have denied involvement in the operation of the shabu lab or with the suspects.
For Cua, who has long been accused of being a drug lord himself since he first entered provincial politics in 2004, the DOJ investigation is an opportunity to clear his name.
The same goes for Mayor Laynes, whose association with the brother of the listed lessor of the land leased to the main Chinese suspect is the focus of the probe despite the fact that he was not yet the mayor when the warehouse was constructed and the lab began operating.
During the duo’s joint press conference before the local media at the governor’s conference room, the chief executive said the discovery of the shabu laboratory surprised him and that he felt a sense of shame that the name of the province had been stained. He took comfort in the chance to finally clear his name from involvement in the nefarious trade.
“Bako kaming manghuhula,” he stressed, pointing out virtually everyone bound to and from San Andres was passing by the gated compound without being aware that inside illegal drugs were being manufactured.
Cua told the media that he thought it was impossible for someone to set up a shabu lab here. “Catanduanes is a small place,” he siaid, recalling that for years there have been rumors of a shabu lab in Parongpong in the Palumbanes island but no proof had been found.
On the other hand, Mayor Laynes disclosed that he learned of the shabu lab when Virac acting police chief James Ronatay, the regional police intel chief and RTC Judge Lelu Contreras came to his residence Friday night to seek assistance in contacting the administrator of the land where the warehouse was located.
The two officials described the sublessor, Angelica Balmadrid, and her husband, NBI director Eric Isidoro, as casual acquaintances, with Laynes admitting that Balmadrid’s elder brother is a close friend way back who has been assisting the municipal government in implementing the Solid Waste Management Act.
The problem with the shabu lab issue is that power politics has entered the picture.
According to capitol sources, mainland mediamen came to the island on board a vehicle provided by a power conglomerate and soon after, reports linking Cua and Laynes to the drug trade surfaced in news websites and on facebook. The info was allegedly sent by an AC-DC member of the local media.
In asking the local press to stand on their own and maintain their credibility., he said that as a public official, he also has to maintain his name and integrity.
He called for the strengthening of information gathering at the barangay level under the MASA MASID program, citing the need to combat not only illegal drugs but also the rampant smuggling of narra lumber out of the island to Quezon province.
Likewise, Cua called for the installation of X-ray machines at both ports here as well as the deployment of drug sniffing dogs to check on passengers and cargo.
THE MOTHER. A man answered the phone. “Yes, Mother,” he sighed. “Liste, I’ve had a long day. Jane has been in one of her awkward moods… Yes, I know I should be firmer with her, but it’s not easy. You know what she’s like… Yes, remember you warned me…. Yes, I remember you told me she was vile creature who would make my life a misery… Yes, I remember you begged me not to marry her. You were right, OK? You want to speak to her? I’ll put her on.”
He put down the phone and called to his wife in the next room. “Jane, your mother wants to talk to you.”