Belmonte blames political rival for inclusion in Duterte narco-list

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 20 2016 12:46 PM

Vicente Belmonte Photo File

MANILA - Former Iligan Rep. Vicente Belmonte claimed Tuesday that his political nemesis, incumbent Iligan Mayor Celso Regencia, is responsible for his wrongful inclusion in President Duterte's list of officials with alleged drug links. 

Speaking to radio DZMM, Belmonte said he received reports as early as May that Regencia and some police officials were planning to tag him as a narco-politician. 

"Mayor Regencia is the incumbent mayor, second term niya ngayon. Iyung drugs kasi is they have the authority. Maybe, with the approval of the police chief, tao niya in the region. Malakas ang kutob ko na may relation ito," he said. 

Regencia is currently in jail for allegedly masterminding the 2014 ambush on Belmonte that killed his three bodyguards. 

Belmonte insisted that he has never dabbled with the narcotics trade and is ready to face any investigation to clear his name.

Belmonte, a three-term representative of Iligan City, served as chair of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs during the 15th and 16th Congresses.

He authored Republic Act 10640 which sought to amend and strengthen the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act.

He also pushed for bills seeking to exempt drug-related cases from the Anti-Wiretapping Law and revive death penalty for narcotics trafficking and other heinous crimes.

Recognizing the extent of the country's drug problem, Belmonte said he also penned a House committee letter urging then President Benigno Aquino III to boost anti-narcotics efforts.

He said he also encouraged the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to create satellite offices and personally provided its agents with safe houses, vehicles and regular allowances.