BACOLOD CITY: An adviser of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has revealed that members of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in northern Negros are receiving money from drug lords in the Visayas.

Mayor Magdaleno Peña of Moises Padilla town early this week said some big-time drug dealers are enjoying the protection of the communist rebels in the area and, perhaps, this is the reason why “illegal drugs are proliferating in that part of Negros Occidental.”

“That is probably why the regional center of the rebels is in the north with Fr. Frank Fernandez in there because [they]enjoy getting support from the drug lords…,” Peña added.

He was referring to Fernandez, who is said to be the recognized leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA on Negros island.

Northern Negros or the First District is composed of the cities of San Carlos and Escalante and the towns of Calatrava, Toboso and Salvador Benedicto.

The mayor said local politicians and police officers in the district are allegedly “protecting” the illegal-drugs business.

He slammed the San Carlos City police for claiming that the 6 kilos of shabu worth P72 million seized last week in Barangay Palampas in the city belong to a new drug group, saying the city police “might be involved or just plain blind.”

“A total of 18 kilos of shabu entered Negros Occidental through the San Carlos port last week but only 6 kilos were seized,” Peña said, adding that “the remaining drugs are now being sold in other parts of the province.”

Police failed to arrest Armando Paraquelles and his wife Josephine and their cohort Ronnie Recomo, alias Putot, who escaped during the operation.

The Paraquelles couple are but “underlings of the Bertucio drug group of Calatrava,” Peña said.

The alleged leader of the group was arrested years ago and is serving his sentence at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.

“The drug group is still operating in the province,” Peña said.

The mayor said he has been assisting PDEA by augmenting its operatives, supporting its logistical requirements and giving rewards to those who are able to track down those involved in illegal drugs.

Meanwhile, Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, a former mayor of San Carlos City, challenged Peña to prove his claims.

“I am confident that none of the politicians in San Carlos City are protectors of illegal drugs. Ever since, we have these anti-illegal drug war a priority even before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte,” he said.

But he admitted that illegal drugs pass through San Carlos “because of its port.”

“This business of illegal drugs continues because it is lucrative. People make big bucks in it,” Lacson said.