Ex-mayor tagged in Duterte’s narco-list wants the NBI to probe him

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 5) — A former mayor of a Cebu town is asking the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe him and his alleged drug links, revealed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Knowing I am innocent of the charges from the very start, I respectfully request an independent investigation be conducted by your office on the matter to establish the truth about the accusations, past and present,” former Daanbantayan, Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot said in a July 13 letter to the NBI in Region VII.

Loot sent the letter on the heels of a local news report that he had been accused again by Duterte of involvement in the illegal drugs trade.

“I had been the subject of much vilification and disinformation that even the President now believes them to be accurate,” Loot said.

The former mayor assured that he will make himself available for interview and will provide information about his life and activities if requested by authorities. He said he is willing to face charges if the allegations are proven true.

Loot, a former police general, also claimed that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group had cleared him of illegal drug links in 2016.

NBI Region VII Assistant Director Dominador Cimafranca said their office has not yet received Loot’s letter and could not yet comment about it.

In a phone interview, NBI Region VII Director Renato Enrile said once they receive the letter, they will refer it to the NBI headquarters in Manila which would determine whether it merits an investigation.

As early as his first year in office, Duterte has tagged Loot as one of the government officials supposedly involved in the drug trade, which his administration has waged a vicious war against.

He was also among those implicated by self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa during his testimony at the Senate in 2016.

Loot and his family were ambushed in May 2018, leaving his two drivers, his grandchild’s nanny and a cargo porter injured.

Cebu-based journalist Dale Israel contributed to this report.