MANILA, September 9, 2003  (STAR)  A police official revealed yesterday that drug money is being used to "destabilize" the Arroyo administration.

Deputy Director General Edgar Aglipay, commander of the PNP anti-illegal drug special operations task force, told reporters at Malacañang yesterday intelligence reports point to illegal drugs as the source of funds for the "destabilization plots" against President Arroyo.

"They (drug lords) have lots of funds," he said.

"They would like to protect their interests. That is very likely to happen. We have but as I’ve said, we will come up with the names if we have the evidence to nail them down. That’s how it is right now."

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Aglipay has confirmed allegations of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., that certain politicians with links to illegal drugs and bank robbers are into a "destabilazation" campaign.

"In general, what we can say is that drug organizations are feeling the effects of intensified against drug operators and this is (a) possible (reason for) destabilization efforts," he said.

"These things are now being investigated by the PNP. Let’s just wait for the reports as these investigations are completed."

In an interview over state-run Radyo ng Bayan, Bunye said drug lords might be behind the "destabilization plots" because of the intensified campaign against shabu and other illegal drugs by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

"That’s very possible because of the series of campaigns by the government, which have seized the equipment and the drugs they produced, which run to billions of pesos and that dented their operations," he said.

"So we would not be surprised if these drug groups were also part of such destabilization moves."

Ebdane said the PNP is investigating certain politicians on their alleged connection with the rash of bank robberies and car thefts in Metro Manila.

Ebdane did not give any names and details.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. dared yesterday Ebdane to identify and arrest the politicians whom he had accused of involvement in bank robberies in Metro Manila.

"The PNP (chief) has made a very serious allegation and he should back it up with enough evidence," he said.

"And the sooner he is called to reveal the names of the politicians linked to the bank robberies – the senators, congressmen or local officials – the better it will be."

Speaking in Cagayan de Oro City, Pimentel said if Ebdane has evidence to back up his allegation, he must identify these politicians so that appropriate charges could be filed against them.

Pimentel questioned Ebdane’s action at accusing the political opposition on the basis of so-called "reports" without giving any details.

"Unless the PNP director general could substantiate his allegation, Ebdane may just be shooting from the hip, making other people a scapegoat for the law enforcers’ failure to solve the bank heists," he said.

Pimentel said Interior and Local Government Secretary Jose Lina Jr. has identified the Kuratong Baleleng Gang to be behind the daring robbery at the Citibank Center in Makati last Aug. 25.

"If they suspect the Kuratong Baleleng robbery gang had pulled out the Citibank robbery, what has the PNP done to round up the gang members?" he said.

"It seems Director General Ebdane opened his mouth too soon, pointing to certain politicians as the culprits without any hard evidence."

The failure to arrest the culprits behind the bank robberies is a glaring manifestation of the "gross inefficiency" of the PNP, Pimentel added.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan said persistent reports on "destabilization plots" against Mrs. Arroyo is part of ploy to divert public attention from the Senate investigation on the "Jose Pidal" accounts.

"As far as I am concerned, this is being generated from the administration," he said.

"They are spin doctors with the cooperation of the intelligence community to divert the attention of the public to serious charges of corruption and inefficiency in the present government. It is intended to continuously silence the opposition."

Honasan, who resurfaced at the Senate yesterday for the Jose Pidal hearings, said the Arroyo administration is "sacrificing public interest" and suppressing the truth to cover up the allegations of Sen. Panfilo Lacson that First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo had laundered more than P100 million in three different accounts at the Union Bank of the Philippines, Bank of the Philippine Islands, and International Exchange Bank.

"This is not a good omen for the government," he said. "It is obvious to the Filipino people who is telling the truth and who is not telling the truth."— Marichu Villanueva, Bong Fabe, Jose Rodel Clapano

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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