MANILA - At least three politicians tagged in President Rodrigo Duterte's new "narco-list" have denied involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Duterte on Thursday released a new list and said the officials named in it are facing administrative cases before the Office of the Ombudsman.
But reelectionist San Rafael, Bulacan Mayor Cipriano Violago Jr. on Thursday said he has cooperated with all investigations since 2016 and blamed his rival for his inclusion in the list.
"Ako ay 'cleared' sa Municipal Level, Provincial Level, Regional Level, hanggang sa Camp Crame at iba pang mga ahensya. Subject for 'de-listing' na ang aking pangalan ngunit may humaharang nito sa mas mataas pang tanggapan: ang Office of the President," he said in a Facebook post.
Violago said he is ready to face investigations anew to clear his name.
"Muli kong haharapin ang pagsubok na ito. Mananatili akong matatag dahil mayroon pa rin akong sinumpaang tungkulin na pagsilbihan ang aking mga kababayan na nagtiwala sa akin at ako ay nagpapasalamat dahil sa inyong patuloy na suporta," he said.
"They can never put a good man down."
Subic Mayor Jefferson "Jay" Khonghun, who is running for vice governor in the May midterm polls, also denied the allegation that he said was perpetuated by his rival.
"Hindi na po namin kailangan gawin na magprotekta ng droga or maging durg lord dahil hindi naman po kami ganun kahirap," he said in a Facebook Live video on Wednesday.
"At isa pa po, matagal na rin pong nangongontrata ang aking ama bilang contractor bago siya pumasok sa politika. Congressman na po siya, mayor na po ako, board member na po ang kapatid ko bakit naman namin kailangan gaiwn yun eh meron din naman po kaming pamilya na kailangan alagaan, protektahan."
House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chair Vicente Veloso of Leyte also maintained that he is not a narco-politician.
Veloso, the highest ranking lawmaker in the list, maintained he has been cleared of this in the past by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and by self-confessed drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa.
"If the regional director of PDEA says hindi ako drug lord, na hindi ako narcopolitican na di ako protector ano ngayon ang naging basis ng Presidente in saying that I am a narcopolitico?" he told ABS-CBN News.
Veloso added that he is eyeing criminal charges against those who put him in the list.
“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 said.
Duterte earlier tagged other politicians and even police officers as part of his anti-drug campaign. Last year, mayors sought a dialogue with Duterte for fear of their lives following the slay of several local officials, including those linked to illegal drugs.
Among local officials earlier tagged by Duterte are Daanbantayan, Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot and former Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog, who have denied allegations of the President.
--With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News