BY ADRIAN STEWART CO and MAE SINGUAY
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte denied linking Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia of Bacolod City to the illegal drug trade.
In a video uploaded Thursday on his Facebook page, the President said former Bacolod City mayor Monico Puentevella twisted the words in his March 8 speech in Victorias City, Negros Occidental and used them against Leonardia.
“‘Yung sinabi ni mayor Monico na pinangalanan ko si Mayor Leornadia as one of the [officials involved in the illegal drug trade], I was purposely, intentionally – binaliktad ang salita. Hindi naman ‘ho fair iyan,” Duterte said.
Puentevella was defeated by Leonardia in the 2016 mayoralty race. He is now running for a seat in the House of Representatives in the upcoming May 13 midterm polls.
“My advice kay mayor Monico is that you know, huwag ganon. Tapos gamitin mo ang pangalan ko. Tapos mga speeches ko ini-spliced niyo, dinagdagdan niyo. Pinaghalo-halo niyo na lalabas na si Leonardia ang nasa droga. Mali po iyon,” added the President, who is known for his bloody antinarcotics campaign.
The video that lasted for almost five minutes was uploaded after supporters of Puentevella allegedly spread information that Leonardia was called out by the President during a Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan campaign rally in Victorias City early this month.
Duterte said neither Puentevella nor Leonardia was involved in the illegal drug trade.
But the President said: “I think [Leonardia] is the better guy – he is more direct and honest, and I want him to be the mayor of the city.”
Leonardia, for his part, thanked Duterte for the endorsement but added that the “clarification is more important to me as of the moment.”/PN