“To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace.”
— Malcolm X
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — I first heard the name Melvin “Boyet” Odicta in the early 90’s when I edited the stories of our police beat reporters, Ruby Silubrico and Ednalyn Belonio-Diamante, in Sun Star, a daily newspaper in Western Visayas in the Philippines.
If Odicta was not arrested in a buy-bust operation and raids conducted by elements of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) then headed by Supt. Vicente Neptuno in his residence in Brgy. Tanza-Esperanza, City Proper, he was nabbed for, believe it or not, snatching!
Since Odicta was never convicted of snatching, either complainants refused to pursue the case for fear of reprisal or lack of interest, or he was a victim of a mistaken identity as he had insisted, according to police.
In other words, the man who raked in millions of pesos allegedly in trafficking of illegal drugs in year 2000 up and became the most-feared character in the underworld, started as small fry.
Odicta had always insisted he was a legitimate businessman. They operated a taxi company and a restaurant.
The man tagged by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and by no less than Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa as “the drug lord”, reportedly began as a mere street hooligan.
His sudden transformation from alleged small-time trafficker and “snatcher” to big-time “drug lord” was meteoric, to say the least.
It was when Odicta began to “collaborate” with Merriam Regalado-Porras, who became Mrs. Meriam Odicta, that his name became a byword and his empire ballooned.
Meriam was widow of the notorious gangster Tikboy Porras of Pototan, Iloilo. Porras was murdered reportedly by his former cohorts in a beach resort in Iloilo City in early 80s.
Porras, who also reportedly dabbled as hired killer, was one of the fast-rising illegal drug traffickers in Iloilo province when he was killed, police said.
Police said it was possible that Meriam “inherited” her dead husband’s connections and sources in the illicit deals.
When Odicta was sentenced to life imprisonment for violation of Republic Act 6425 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, he met some of the jailed criminal bigwigs in the New Bilibid Prison, believed to be the source of first-grade metamphetamine chloride or shabu.
Authorities viewed his alleged connections in the New Bilibid Prison mafia plus Meriam’s “well-entrenched” tentacles as “formidable” combinations.
When he was released under a controversial circumstance in the 90’s, Odicta made a name in the underworld as “Dragon”, his nom de guerre in the New Bilibid Prison probably inspired by the huge dragon tattoo on his body.
Dragon was reportedly both feared by his rivals and admired by his cohorts. His connections were so wide and powerful that he became untouchable for a long time, police said.
The Odicta couple were gunned down by unidentified assailants as they arrived via ro-ro in Caticlan, Aklan on August 29.
They came from a meeting with Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael “Mike” Sueno in Metro Manila where they reportedly submitted a list containing the “illegal drug trade matrix”, a report denied by the couple’s lawyers.