A SUSPECTED Iloilo drug lord and his wife ended up dead early morning yesterday, shot by a still unidentified gunman inside the Caticlan Port in Malay, Aklan barely 72 hours after the couple went to Manila and met with Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno to deny charges they were involved in big-time illegal drug trafficking in Western Visayas.
Police Regional Office 6 director, Chief Superintendent Jose L. Gentiles said Melvin ‘Boyet” Odicta Sr. and his wife Meriam, both residents of Malipayon Street, Delgado, Iloilo City, were attacked at the Caticlan Jetty Port past 1 a.m. yesterday by a lone suspect.
Both were taken to the Malay Municipal Hospital where they expired while doctors were trying to revive them.
“A hot pursuit operation is now ongoing to arrest the suspect,” said Gentiles. The official said the local police got a call from a port security guard informing them of the incident at 1:30 a.m.
Odicta, known for his alias ‘Dragon’, and his wife had just disembarked from a roll on-roll off ship in the port when they were attacked by the assassin who apparently waited for them. Gentiles said they are looking for witnesses to the attack and are reviewing CCTV footage at the port to identify the suspect and his cohorts.
Police are investigating the possibility that the Odicta couple were ordered killed either by their ‘protectors’ or ‘associates’ who are afraid their identities could have been compromised when the two went to Camp Crame to talk with Secretary Sueno last Friday.
“Looks like their protectors or big time associates did them in, afraid that both disclosed something when they visited Sec. Sueno. That is the angle that we are looking at,” Gentiles said.
Officials said that Odicta has been on the list of the defunct Philippine National Police Narcotics Command since the 1990s and later on the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and local police’s watch list. However, Odicta vehemently denied being a ‘drug lord’ and claims he is a legitimate businessman who operates a fleet of taxi, a bar and restaurant.
Sources said that Odicta owns more than 200 taxis in Iloilo but eventually was suspected of engaging in illegal drug trafficking and illegal gambling activities.
“It’s a known fact that many police officials in the region were believed to be receiving protection money from Odicta although they thought the money came from illegal gambling proceeds, not from illegal drug activities,” one senior PNP official privy to the investigation into Odicta’s activities said.
Although Odicta had denied being a drug lord, PNP chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa said last Friday that they are building enough evidence to pin down the multi-millionaire Iloilo businessman whom he has identified as a ‘top drug lord’ who goes by the alias ‘Dragon’ on the government’s list of major drug personalities.
Dela Rosa also said that the businessman, who last week surfaced at Camp Crame to deny charges against him, had been under surveillance by security agents for involvement in drug trafficking.
“Drug lords are hard to arrest. They do not carry drugs. But we will eventually get them,” he said in a visit at the PRO6 headquarters in Iloilo City.
Odicta was once subjected to a Senate investigation for allegedly ordering an armed assault on a radio station in the city critical of his activities on November 19 last year.
Odicta denied having anything to do with drugs with his lawyer, Attorney Raymond Fortun even claiming that the charges against his client were politically motivated.
Odicta and his wife Meriam surfaced at the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame last Thursday morning to have an audience with Gen. Dela Rosa.
Failing to find the PNP chief as he was in Bacolod City, the couple went to the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group headquarters to have their statements taken by investigators, said Sec. Sueno. The DILG chief also said that during his short talk with Odicta, the latter admitted being convicted for marijuana trafficking in 1991.