MANILA - The Philippine National Police has started an investigation on President Rodrigo Duterte's claim that a candidate for the 2022 presidential election is using cocaine.
The PNP has tasked its anti-narcotics units to start a probe on the matter, adding that they took the President's comments as a cue to dig deeper.
"At the end of the day, may privilege, presidential information 'yan. Ang effort namin is to be able to validate. After validation makita natin kung this can be a subject of an operation and then kung validated 'yan tinitingnan natin," PNP chief Dionardo Carlos said in an interview.
He added that they are coordinating with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to investigate the President's claim.
Duterte on Thursday questioned the qualifications of one presidential contender, who he claimed is an illegal drug user.
"There’s even a presidential candidate na nag-cocaine... May kandidato tayo na nagko-cocaine ‘yan, mga anak ng mayaman," Duterte said in a speech before the anti-insurgency task force.
(There's even a presidential candidate na nag-cocaine. We have a candidate who is using cocaine, children of the rich.)
Referring to the unnamed presidential aspirant, Duterte said, "Kaya nga nagtaka ako, anong nagawa, anong nagawa 'yong taong ‘yan? I’m just asking. What contribution has he made para sa Pilipinas?"
(I am puzzled, what has that person done? What contribution has he made for the Philippines?)
Several candidates, meanwhile, urged Duterte to file charges against the aspirant.
In the interview, Carlos encouraged candidates in the upcoming 2022 national and local elections to get tested for illegal drug use.
The PNP chief said they cannot compel candidates as it is not prescribed by law. However, he encouraged candidates to take the test in the interest of transparency.
"At the end of the day it would show 'yung these candidates are free from drugs. Again iba ho 'yung encourage sa the PNP dares. We did not dare them. Iba 'yung dating nun eh. How do you translate that to Tagalog? Hinihikayat. It's their free will," Carlos said.