Duterte apologizes to local officials wrongly named in narco-list

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President Rodrigo Duterte speaks after inspecting a confiscated shabu factory in Arayat, Pampanga.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The public heard new words from President Rodrigo Duterte today — and those are "I am very sorry."

The tough-talking President apologized to former Pangasinan Governor and now Rep. Amado Espino, after Duterte tagged him in his narco-list as coddler of the illegal drug trade in the province.

"I would like to apologize to you publicly. And I would say now, I am very sorry," Duterte said after he inspected a seized shabu factory in Arayat, Pampanga.

The President also apologized to board member Raul Sison and former Pangasinan provincial administrator Raffy Baraan.

"Somehow, we were negligent in counter-checking during the first report," Duterte admitted.

The President explained, he personally examined the reports and revalidated it, but he found something "missing" to implicate Espino, Sison, and Baraan.

He pointed out, there was nothing wrong with the list — only "lapses" in the report. But despite the "lapses" in the reports, the President said he will assume full responsibility for it.

"I take full responsibility. Ako yung nag-announce. [I was the one who announced.] Even if the soldiers and the police commit a serious mistake, I will assume full responsibility," said Duterte. "Hindi ako kargado ng "pride chicken" kung nagkakamali ako." [I am not held by 'pride'(chicken), especially if I'm wrong.]

Apology accepted

In a statement, Espino said he is "humbled by the pronouncement of the President," on clearing his name from the involvement in the alleged drug matrix the President has in his custody.

"I kept my silence for the past three weeks as I know beyond reasonable doubt that I am not guilty of this allegation. More so, when I had the opportunity last August 30, 2016 for a meeting with the President, he promised me to have the matrix revalidated by the proper authorities," Espino said.

According to Espino, the news involving him in the illegal drug trade has caused sadness to his family and to the people of Pangasinan.

"My family, friends and the people of Pangasinan would like to express our gratitude to the President for being a true leader and a gentleman. He has my highest esteem for the courageous and bold statement of apology on clearing my name, Raffy Baraan and Raul Sison," Espino said.

Espino reassured Duterte of his "relentless support" on the government's anti-drug  and peace and order campaign.

The President also said he's willing to apologize all over again, and to anyone who's been wrongly accused in his narco-list.

Meanwhile, Duterte said he still stands by his drug matrix, where former Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and Baraan's brother who has been De Lima's undersecretary are implicated.

Also read: Duterte behind demolition job against me - De Lima

Shabu factory conversion to a rehab facility

President Duterte on Tuesday ordered the confiscation of a property in Arayat, Pampanga, after authorities discovered that it was an abandoned shabu factory.

According to Duterte, the facility owned by certain "Mr. Chua" could cook and produce at least 400 kilos of shabu per day, if it had operated.

"It's just too bad na hindi tayo nag-abot sa mga tao dito," Duterte said. [It's just too bad that our paths didn't cross.]

"I am ordering the sequestering of this property. Chua can never get it back again, I can assure you. Pag bumalik sya dito, sabi ko, sya nalang ang lutuin dyan sa loob. [If he goes back, he'll be the one who's going to be cooked there inside.] If you pour muriatic acid, you will never know where he is."

According to Duterte, Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda said the shabu laboratory was built during the elections, but was abandoned when Duterte won.

He wouldn't want to put the blame on the local government officials though, and said he faced the same problem when a shabu factory was also discovered in Davao City when he was still mayor.

The President, however, lashed out at human rights advocates while showing the drug facilities behind him, saying he would not back down on his war against drugs.

"Hoy human rights tignan nyo to. Naintindihan ninyo? 400 kilos kung natuloy 'to. And you want me to be what? Proper statesman? Hindi ako nag-aral ng pagka statesman. Ang alam ko tumakbo ako ng pagka presidente at nagmura ako pag nagagalit ako. Lalo na if it's the public's interest that is involved," Duterte said.

[Translation: You, human rights (advocates), look at this.  Do you understand? It's 400 kilos in case it had operated. And you want me to be what? Proper statesman? I am not educated to be a statesman. What I know is that I ran for President and I curse when I'm angry especially if it's the public's interest that is involved.]

"I will not relent on this because they will do everything to make us, me, kneel down. 'Di ako papayag. Alam nila ang problema." [I will never agree to it. They know the problem.]

Also read: Alleged Iloilo drug lord Melvin Odicta, wife shot dead