Puerto Princesa vice mayor arrested for illegal drugs

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Puerto Princesa (CNN Philippines, September 4) — Puerto Princesa City Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III was arrested following a drug raid at his house, police reported Monday.

Seized during the raid were 30 sachets believed to contain suspected methampethamine hydrochloride (shabu) wrapped in self-sealing transparent plastic packs, the Philippine National Police's (PNP) Drug Enforcement Group said in a report.

Also seized were one .22-caliber rifle, three rifle grenades, one fragmentation grenade, and four .45-caliber pistols, it added.

Marcaida will face charges for violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Dangerous Drugs Act.

The report said the PNP's Drug Enforcement Group and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency's (PDEA) Special Enforcement Service served the search warrant issued by Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Reynaldo Alhambra.

The authorities were backed by the Palawan Provincial Police Office, supervised by Police Superintendent Enrico Rigoros, it added.

President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a stern warning against "narco-politicians" in line with his war on drugs.

Albuera City Mayor Rolando Espinosa, who was arrested for drug involvement, was killed in his cell last year. Ozamiz Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, Sr. and 14 others were also killed during a drug raid in their home on July 30.

Petition to recall

On August 30, some 39,000 voters filed a petition for recall against Marcaida at the city Commission on Elections.

A certain Oscar Lapida appeared before the Comelec as main petitioner to oust Marcaida for loss of confidence because of his alleged corruption, incompetence, and involvement in drugs.

"Dahil sa panahon na siya'y nanunungkulan bilang Vice Mayor, hindi siya nagpakita ng any signs ng competence, transparency and integrity para sa lungsod ng Puerto Princesa," said Lapida.

[Translation: In the time he sat as Vice President, he did not show any signs of competence, transparency, and integrity for the city of Puerto Princesa.]

He also said that the signatures were gathered in a week. Puerto Princesa has 24,000 registered voters.

"Puerto Princesans don't deserve a high-value target as Vice Mayor," Lapida added.

Marcaida sat briefly as mayor following a vacancy in the post.

The Ombudsman ordered the dismissal of Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron for serious dishonesty and grave misconduct in December 2016.

The Ombudsman later downgraded the charge against him and suspended Bayron for three months. On June 23, the Department of Interior and Local Government released a reinstatement order for Bayron.

Marcaida nonetheless took oath as mayor on August 10, insisting that there was a permanent vacancy.

CNN Philippines' stringer Catherine Santos contributed to this report.