MANILA - (UPDATE) Several high-ranking government officials in Leyte, including actor Richard Gomez and former justice Vicente Veloso, have been tagged as part of the "Espinosa Drug Group" operating in the province, police officials said during a Senate hearing Thursday.
Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, former justice and now Leyte 3rd District Rep. Vicente Veloso, Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez, and Baybay City Vice Mayor Michael Cari were involved in the illegal drug dealings of Espinosa, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) provincial officer Leo Laraga said.
"That was the statement of Mayor Espinosa himself. Espinosa said those names during a conference," Laraga said.
But Gomez, in a text statement to ABS-CBN News' Mario Dumaual, said the allegations were "ridiculous."
"That is ridiculous and outright laughable. I will not even dignify that with an answer, huwag nila akong isama sa circus nila!," he said.
The names of the four politicians were brought up during the joint investigation of the Senate committees on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, and Justice and Human Rights after Majority Leader Senator Vicente Sotto III asked why the CIDG had to apply for a search warrant from a Samar court.
All of the courts in Leyte where search warrants can be sought are under the jurisdiction of the politicians tagged by Espinosa as part of his drug group, Laraga said.
The Senate said the involvement of the four government officials from Leyte will be discussed separately as the probe will focus on the death of Espinosa inside his own jail cell.