MANILA - The mayor of tourist paradise El Nido, Palawan belied accusations that she is a drug protector, a day after her name was included in a list of alleged narcopoliticians.
President Rodrigo Duterte's narco-list, released 2 months before the midterm elections, contained 46 officials including El Nido town Mayor Nieves Rosento.
"Dinedeny po natin talaga ito. Wala po talaga tayong involvement sa ganitong gawain dito sa bayan ng El Nido," Rosento said in an interview on DZMM's Kabayan.
(We deny this claim. We are not involved in this kinds of dealings in El Nido.)
"Tayo ay nabubuhay bilang isang simpleng nanay, isang ina... Sana mabigyan kami ng pagkakataon para madepensahan naman namin ang sarili namin," she said.
(I am just a simple mother... I hope we will be given a chance to defend ourselves.)
The mayor said narcotics seized during anti-crime operations in El Nido come from outside sources and are brought in by some tourists. She said she has been very supportive of the President's anti-narcotics drive.
"[But] We have 45 islands. Ang El Nido ay isang tourism destination. Maliwanag na maraming dumadating from outside," she said.
(We have 45 islands. El Nido is a tourism destination. It is clear that many outsiders come here.)
Rosento, a reelectionist candidate in El Nido's mayoralty race, was a member of Duterte's PDP-Laban in 2016. She shifted to the Nationalist People's Coalition for this year's election after the ruling party declined to endorse her mayoralty bid.
She made headlines last year after Tourism Sec. Berna Romulo Puyat was irked by her supposed inaction on the clean-up of one of the country's top island destinations.