Alleged narco-politicians deny involvement in illegal drug trade

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President Rodrigo Duterte named government officials, members of the judiciary, and police officials allegedly linked to illegal drugs during a speech in Davao early Sunday.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Shocked and saddened — these were the initial reactions of some whose names were mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte as politicians allegedly involved in illegal drug trade in the country.

The President, in a speech early Sunday, identified eight judges, more than 50 sitting and former mayors and vice mayors, and 95 active, retired and non-commissioned police officers allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.

Former Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama, in a statement in his social media account, immediately denied the accusation hurled against him.

“The news that my name was mentioned by President Duterte is saddening. Even how untrue this accusation is, should this be the way and the necessary step to win the war against drugs, I will fully cooperate with the authorities to immediately clear my name and we trust that we will be given the opportunity to present our side and prove our innocence.”

Rama added, he will continue supporting Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.

“My family and I have always been law-abiding citizens and have been very clear about our stand against drugs. May justice prevail and the truth set us free,” Rama said.

Meanwhile, San Rafael, Bulacan Mayor Cipriano “Goto” Violago Jr., whose name was also mentioned by Duterte, said he also supports the President’s moves against illegal drugs — and it’s grueling to hear such accusations against him.

“Syempre masyadong nalulungkot, nanghihina ang buong katawan ko at sobrang laking problema yung kinakaharap ko ngayon,” Violago said in a press conference, Sunday. “Walang katotohanan yung naging balita na ako raw ay sangkot sa ilegal na droga.”

[Translation: Of course I’m very saddened, my body weakens because of this big problem I’m facing… There is no truth to the news that I’m involved in illegal drugs.]

Violago said his hometown has been active in supporting Duterte’s anti-illegal drug programs.

According to Violago, 109 drug pushers in San Rafael, Bulacan have been put behind bars since he took over as mayor in 2013.  While around 900 pushers and users surrendered and subjected themselves to rehabilitation programs last month.

“Hindi ko rin po alam kung papaano eh kung papaano ako isinangkot... Galit na galit po ako sa droga pagkatapos sa kabila po ng lahat ay ganito ang nagyari sa buhay ko,” Violago said.

[Translation: I don’t know how I’m involved in this… I loathe drugs, and yet this is what's happening in my life.]

Violago asked the President to give him the chance to clear his name, as he willingly subjects himself to investigation.

“Syempre po kaya nga nandito ngayon ay gusto ko po iharap yung sarili ko para kung ano mang yung katanungan ng atin kapulisan. Sasagutin ko po, sasagutin ko po ng matuwid sa kanila,” Violago said.

[Translation: That’s why I’m here now, because I want to subject myself to questioning by the police. I will answer them straightforwardly.]

Violago added, aside from serving in public office, he also has some businesses where he earns extra income. He said his family owns an LPG dealership, a water station, and some bakeries.

Asked if he would agree to a drug test, Violago said he welcomes it.

“Ay! Wala na po! Wala akong problema! Hindi ako naninigarilyo hindi po ako nagdudrugs,” he told the media. [I have no problem with that.  I don’t smoke, and I don’t take drugs.]

After his press conference, Violago immediately reported to the Philippine National Police - Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).

Aside from Violago, Dasmariñas, Cavite Judge Lorinda Mupas and Saguiaran, Lanao Del Sur former mayor Rasmyiah Macabago also went to CIDG and subjected themselves to questioning.

Also read: Former, incumbent mayors on drug list surrender to PNP Chief

Leyte mayor surrenders for fear for his life, heeds Duterte’s call against drugs

Iloilo, the most ‘shabulized’ province

In his speech, President Duterte described Iloilo as the most “shabulized” province.

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, however, also denied Duterte’s allegations.

Mabilog said in a press conference at the Iloilo City Hall that he also supports the administration’s initiative against illegal drug trade.

"I support the President in his drive against illegal drugs and fully understand his determination to defeat the menace, but it's very unfortunate and disconcerting that my name is linked and included in the list," he said.

Mabilog, who was also named as one of the coddlers of illegal drug trade in Iloilo, said he is not involved in it.

Like Rama and Violago, Mabilog said he is willing to subject himself to any investigation, cooperate and submit to any court of law.

"Since this is an urgent matter which endangers my personal security and that of my family, I request that the authorities conduct a speedy investigation for I too wanted the truth and nothing but the truth to come out,” Mabilog said.

“It is only fair that since my name has been called out, that I be accorded with the speedy investigation."

Mabilog ensured his constituents that he is “credible and clean,” saying he wants to keep his honor and integrity intact.

"To my constituents and the Ilonggos of Iloilo City, this mayor, your humble servant as you have known, has always been serving you well to the best of my knowledge and ability as your local chief executive with honesty, integrity, competence and accountability.  These are trying times and I am very sure that at the end of the day the truth will prevail. The truth will set us free."

Aside from Mabilog, Maasin Mayor Mar Malones, Calinog Mayor Alex Centena, and Mayor Onting Betita of Carles, were also named narco-politicians in Iloilo.

Following the announcement of Duterte, the Police Regional Office 6 has recalled all PNP personnel who were also mentioned.

According to PRO6 spokesperson Supt. Gilbert Gorrero, the officials were ordered to report to Camp Delgado for accounting, bringing with them all issued firearms.

All security escorts of the mayors included in the list were also recalled.

CNN Philippines’ Isabella Montano and Iloilo-based journalist Elyrose Naorbe contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Please refresh page for updates.

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