MANILA (Mabuhay) – The legal counsel of suspected drug lord Melvin Odicta and his wife Meriam on Wednesday accused the Philippine National Police (PNP) of having a hand in the couple’s killing.
Lawyer Raymond Fortun said the Odicta couple has been receiving death threats as early as June not from supposed illegal drug associates but from the PNP.
“As early as June 2016, takot na takot ang mag-asawa na may papatay sa kanila and it will come daw from PNP,” Fortun said.
“Wala silang pangamba sa mga alleged drug associates kasi alam naman nila, at sinabi naman nila sa akin, na hindi naman daw sila dawit drug activities. May mga bali-balita na ang papatay sa kanila ay ang kanilang mga drug associates, walang katotohanan yan. Gawa-gawa lang yan ng mga pulis yan,” he added.
Melvin and Meriam were killed early Monday morning by an unidentified suspect after disembarking from a roll-on, roll-off vessel at the Caticlan Jetty Port, days after they were linked to illegal drug activities in the Visayas region.
Malacañang has earlier denied that policemen had a hand in the killing of the couple, saying investigation is ongoing to unmask the killer.
“Police have already formed a special task force that would look into the deaths,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella had said. “Director of the Western Visayas Regional Police has said that they do value the life of every individual and respect due process.”
Fortun said although the information he received is speculative, he decided to issue a statement after receiving threats because of reports that the couple’s lawyers allegedly received a copy of a “drug matrix” from them.
“The only reason na kailangan ko magsalita kasi ang kumakalat sa Region 6 na ang drug matrix ay nasa kamay ng mga abugado. That makes me a target,” he said.
Fortun said a friend has cautioned him against traveling to Iloilo, the home province of the Odicta couple.
“Mayroon akong kakilala sa Region 6 na nagparating ng info na ang lumalabas daw na balita nasa abugado ang drug matrix at sinabihan ako na ‘wag pumunta ng Iloilo at ‘wag masyadong lumabas dahil delikado ang buhay ko. For me that is already a threat for my life,” he said.
He denied that the lawyers of the Odicta couple have a copy of the supposed drug matrix, but added that in case there is such a document, it is covered by the attorney-client privilege on confidentiality.
“Nililinaw ko, walang drug matrix na binigay si Melvin sa mga pulis, walang drug matrix na binibigay sa mga abugado at kung meron mang binigay sa abugado, mayroon kaming attorney-client privilege. Di namin pwede ipagkalat ang anumang info na ibigay ng kliyente namin sa ibang tao. Kahit na kami ay parusahan, ikulong ng husgado, hindi namin pwedeng tanggihan ang katungkulan bilang isang abugado,” Fortun said.
He also said Interior Secretary Mike Sueno can attest that the Odicta couple only submitted documents disputing their involvement in illegal drugs during their meeting in Manila days before the killing.
“Si Secretary Sueno ang makakapagpatunay, present din ako sa pag-uusap na yun, walang binanggit na kahit sinong pulitiko, kahit na sinong heneral, kahit na sinong miyembro ng PNP ang mag-asawang Odicta na isinasama sa drug activities,” Fortun said.
“Sila ay nagpunta sa DILG para linawin at itanggi na sila ay involved in any illegal activities. Sila ay nandoon lamang para linisin ang kanilang pangalan,” he added.
Fortun mentioned that Melvin turned over several documents to the DILG, including his release order in 1996, a court order on habeas corpus, and a 2003 Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency report clearing him from any illegal drug activities