BY: Tara Yap
Iloilo City – With nonstop attacks from President Duterte, beleaguered Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is not on leave of absence and is scheduled to return to Iloilo City.
“Mayor Mabilog never filed for leave of absence,” lawyer Hernando Galvez, city administrator, said in a phone interview yesterday.
“He is coming back sometime this week,” assured lawyer Mark Piad, Mabilog’s spokesman.
Both Galvez and Piaz dispelled speculations that Mabilog and his family fled to Japan and are not returning to the country.
Even before the Sept. 1 death of suspected drug lord Richard “Buang” Prevendido, allies and ordinary Ilonggos expressed the need for Mabilog to take a leave despite pronouncements he is not resigning.
At that time, Ilonggos grew weary when the President announced on Aug. 28 that controversial Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido will be assigned to Iloilo City to go after Mabilog, whom he tagged as a drug protector.
While Espenido’s transfer was cancelled, it did not stop the President in again calling out Mabilog.
In a speech in Davao City over the weekend, the President claimed that Mabilog’s house is more “grandiose” than Malacañang Palace.
The President also accused Mabilog of using drug money to build the house he earlier described as a “palace”.
Mabilog has never been publicly linked to Prevendido, who died last Friday. In contrast, it was the President who linked Mabilog to Melvin “Boyet” Odicta Sr., the other suspected drug lord killed by unidentified gunmen in Aug. 2016.
Mabilog has vehemently denied protecting Odicta and other syndicated crime groups.
Mabilog’s trip to Japan was official. He was a speaker at a disaster-risk reduction forum organized by CityNet, an Asia-Pacific association for development. Mabilog was joined by Jeck Conlu, chief of the Iloilo City Public Safety Department.
Mabilog left Iloilo City for Japan last August 30, the day before four agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conducted an ocular inspection of his controversial house overlooking the Iloilo River.
The President ordered both the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the NBI to conduct a lifestyle check on Mabilog.