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Widow of slain publisher files raps vs. Catanduanes gov, 2 others

The widow of slain newspaper publisher Larry Que on Wednesday filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a complaint against the governor of Catanduanes and two other local officials for their negligence that led to the proliferation of illegal drugs in the province.

Edralyn Pangilinan, the common-law wife of Que, accused Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua, Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes, and Barangay Plata Small, Virac chairman Hilario Sarmiento of violating Section 3(e) of RA 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Grave Misconduct and Nonfeasance.

In her complaint, Pangilinan narrated that on November 26, 2016, a drug laboratory in Barangay Small Plata in Virac was discovered by the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Group through a search warrant.

Cua’s name was “once again made colloquial in view” following the discovery of the drug laboratory, given his then rumored involvement in the illegal drug trade in the province.

Que then started his own investigation on the incident, results of which were published in the December 13-19, 2016 issue of his newspaper, Catanduanes News Now.

In his stories, Que named Cua as the person responsible for the drug laboratory.

He, however, was not able to publish the second issue of the newspaper and his “ultimate expose” — a history of Cua’s involvement in the illegal drug trade in Catanduanes and other areas — after he was shot dead on December 19.

In arguing the cases, Pangilinan said Cua, as governor, should have prevented the proliferation of illegal drugs in the province. 

The case is the same for Laynes and Sarmiento, since it was in their respective municipality and barangay that the drug laboratory was situated.

“From the gross inexcusable negligence of these public officials, the clandestine drug laboratory was able to be established and, in fact, flourished,” Pangilinan's complaint read.

The respondents also committed grave misconduct as they “have been clearly corrupted and their flagrant disregard of existing laws and rules are manifest,” she said.

Aside from indicting the respondents, Pangilinan also asked the Ombudsman for their immediate preventive suspension, pending resolution of the complaint.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines earlier condemned Que's killing, believing it was in the line of his duty as a journalist considering the topic of his last newspaper column.  — MDM, GMA News