Ilonggos react to Duterte tagging Iloilo as ‘most shabulized’ province, ‘bedrock’ of illegal drugs

Last August, President Rodrigo Duterte called Iloilo the “most shabulized” province in the Philippines, describing the extent of the drug use in the province. He also named several local government officials and personalities who are linked to the drug trade.

“The most shabulized – is that the word – shabulized, is there such a word shabulized? I will say that wala akong personal sa kanila ha – Iloilo,” Duterte said after reading several names off his list of drug personalities in the country.
The list was composed of over 150 personalities. Among those names from Iloilo were Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog, Carles Mayor Sigfredo Betita, Calinog Mayor Alex Centina, and Maasin Mayor Mariano Malones.

Reactions to ‘most shabulized’ tag

The Ilonggos had mixed reactions to how Duterte tagged their province.

Senator Franklin Drilon said that he supported Duterte’s drug war, but urged for due process to be observed.

“All the efforts of the Ilonggos for the past five years to make Iloilo an attractive and progressive investment destination and a livable city is negated by a sweeping judgment of the city and province of Iloilo. Whatever these officials may have allegedly done are their individual acts, and cannot be the collective guilt of the Ilonggos,” Drilon said in the statement.

Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas said that he knew about the spreading drug problem in his province but was still shocked by its extent, adding that drastic measures should be taken to address the problem.

Some netizens felt sad about the tag.

Rappler gathered some of their reactions.

Others were not as shocked to hear about Iloilo’s new title.

There were also some who noted the quick change in Iloilo’s title.

Iloilo City mayor denies being a drug protector

Mabilog denied the accusation and called for an investigation into the matter. He also emphasized his support in implementing the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
“The record will speak for itself – that my administration was always in full support of the needs of the PNP and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the agencies primarily responsible for the suppression and elimination of illegal drugs in the city, and I have never been remiss in this duty and obligation,’’ Mabilog said.

“I am not involved in the protection, trade and use of illegal drugs. I am willing to open myself for any investigation, cooperate and submit myself to any court of law,” he added.

Iloilo as ‘bedrock’ of drugs 

We think the issue about Iloilo being tagged as the “most shabulized” province by Duterte resurfaced because Duterte called it the “bedrock” of drugs in the Visayas on July 12 at the anniversary celebration of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

“The Visayas was poisoned. Iloilo is the bedrock. Doon dinadaan ang shabu sa Visayas,” he said.

According to, Fr. Esperidion Celis of St. Anne Parish in Molo asked Regional Director Gil Pabilona of PDEA-6 during the Iloilo City Barangay Anti-Drugs Abuse Council just who Duterte’s sources of information are and if Duterte knew about Iloilo City’s anti-illegal drugs programs.

Pabilona said he did not know where Duterte got his information from.

It is that I don’t know where the President is getting the information because my information is only limited at the regional level. I don’t know where the other information he (President) is getting from,” Pabilona said during a press interview.

“Yes, nire-report namin ‘yung mga effort of the mayor, assistant of the mayor, to the PDEA; that the Mayor has been going around, really pushing hard for the barangay to really cooperate and really perform the drug clearing and we appreciate that,” Pabilona added.

Pabilona said he would treat Duterte’s new tag for Iloilo as a challenge to “double, triple my efforts to really continue the clearing of the barangays in the region.” He added that he would use the process used in clearing other alleged drug personalities to clear Mabilog’s tag as a drug protector.

“We have to validate for the past six months if there are reports against him that he is involved in illegal drugs as drug protector. If from the intelligence community, we get no more reports that the drug protector are still protecting drug trade then we have to downgrade this protector to inactive file which means if there will be reports later on they are again engaged in illegal drugs we have to put them in the watchlist or anti drug operations so actually they are not deleted completely,” Pabilona said.

When asked if Mabilog was in PDEA’s list, Pabilona said, “Nasa listahan ng Presidente.”

As of May 2017, the Iloilo Police Provincial Office declared 719 barangays in Iloilo as drug-free and are determined to make the remaining 176 barangays cleared of drugs as well.

Some Twitter users reacted to Duterte’s ‘shabulized’ and ‘bedrock’ of drugs tags for Iloilo.

One even compiled some Ilonggos’s reactions to the tags.

However, PDEA-6 Spokesperson David Garcia agreed with Duterte’s title for Iloilo. In a Bombo Radyo interview, Garcia said that if they consider the fact that Iloilo is surrounded by big provinces and cities, it is highly likely that illegal drugs do pass through the province. However, he clarified that the drug situation in Iloilo now is so different from the way it was before.

The Department of Tourism warned that Duterte’s remarks about Iloilo might affect the tourism in the province. DOT-6 director Atty. Helen Catalbas said that this should serve as a challenge to the local officials. She also said that the tourism attractiveness of Iloilo should not only depend on the beauty of the tourist destinations but also on the peace and order situation in the region.

Iloilo site slams Duterte

Iloilo Metropolitan Times, in its opinion article on July 7, said that Duterte only based his tags for Iloilo as the “bedrock of illegal drugs” on his own biases against Ilonggo leaders accused to be drug protectors.

“But, seriously? What did Iloilo do to the President that deserves this kind of negative statement to the superlative degree knowing that more than the problem on illegal drugs which is mounting among other provinces with emphasis to the city of Davao, Iloilo and the Ilonggos have been working very hard to improve its standard of living by way of luring investors to spend their money and help the poor people earn a decent living?” they wrote.

The news website also accused Duterte of “creating an atmosphere of insecurity and hostility between the residents of Iloilo and the people who are interested to do business around.”

They also acknowledged the fact that some government officials did support the illegal drug activities in the region and Duterte calling them out was needed “to arouse the senses of these leaders from their own laziness and tolerance.” However, Iloilo Metropolitan Times took issue with how Duterte “repeatedly” singled out the region.

“But, when a president REPEATEDLY singles out a place which is relatively far better compared to other areas in terms of infestation of the illegal drug menace, it already means something,” they wrote.

The website also brought up the fact that some of Iloilo’s leaders supported losing presidential candidate Mar Roxas in the 2016 elections.

“Either ways, the president is vindictive as it is a known fact that the local leaders of Iloilo supported Mar Roxas last elections or the president is acting naturally normal given his age,” the news site wrote.

Some Ilonggos expressed their reactions on the comments section of the Iloilo Metropolitan Times’ Facebook post.

There were some who accused Duterte of being envious of Iloilo’s status.

One, though, seemed to agree with Duterte.

Sources: ( , , , , )

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