MANILA – A number of politicians in President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest “narco-list” released on Thursday night denied having involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Leyte 3rd District’s Cong. Vicente “Ching” Veloso said he was stunned to be listed.
He was already cleared by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and self-confessed drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa, he stressed.
“If the regional director of PDEA says hindi ako drug lord, na hindi ako narco-politician, na ‘di ako protector, ano ngayon ang naging basis ng Presidente in saying that I am a narco-politico?” Veloso said.
“If they cannot prove that, not only will I be filing criminal charges against them, but I urge the President to fire his men who allowed themselves to be used as tool to destroy the name of politicians,” he added.
Lucena City’s Mayor Roderick Alcala, meanwhile, blamed House minority leader and Quezon’s Cong. Danilo Suarez for his inclusion in the “narco-list.”
He recalled Suarez threatening to release documents against him if he did not stop a certain broadcaster.
“Si Congressman Dani Suarez po mismo tumawag po sa akin. Sinabihan po niya ko na may mga hawak siyang dokumento. Pagka hindi ko pinatigil ‘yung isang brodkaster ay ilalabas po niya ito,” Alcala said in a television interview.
Subic’s Mayor Jefferson “Jay” Khonghun, who is running for vice governor in the May midterm polls, said in a Facebook live video that his political rivals were behind his implication.
Reelectionist San Rafael, Bulacan mayor Cipriano Violago Jr., for his part, also maintained that he cooperated in all investigations since 2016 and he was cleared.
According to President Duterte, his decision to release the list containing 46 names was “anchored on my trust in the government agencies that vetted and validated” it.
He also said the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) filed administrative charges – for grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, conduct unbecoming of a public officer, and gross neglect of duty – before the Office of the Ombudsman early on Thursday against the local officials in this latest narco-list.
“Remember that public office is a public trust, and a government official’s right to privacy is not absolute. There is a compelling reason to prioritize the interest of the state and the people,” said Duterte./PN