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Find out how Iloilo politikos reacted to their inclusion, non-inclusion on Duterte’s narco-list

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ILOILO CITY — Two municipal mayors in Iloilo province are protesting their inclusion among 46 narco-politikos named by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Mayors Siegfredo Betita of Carles and Mariano Malones of Maasin were among the 46 names read out by Duterte during the National Peace and Order Council meeting in Davao City on Thursday evening.

In a phone interview on Friday, Betita said linking him to illegal drugs was an “old issue” and he was confident that his constituents in Carles would not believe allegations of involvement in drugs against him.

“I don’t have any involvement with illegal drugs. In the past, there was an intelligence groups that monitored me but they saw nothing because I am not involved in illegal drugs,” he said.

He expected to be included because “my name wasn’t erased in Malacañang” and the release was timed for the elections.

“We do not know (who submitted the name to the President). We cannot pinpoint but most likely it’s from the opposing party,” said Betita who filed his re-election bid under the Nacionalista Party (NP).

He said being on the narco-list might gain the “sympathy of the people of Carles because they know that I am not involved in illegal drugs.”

He said he still respected the authority of the President saying that “he only reads what is forwarded to him.”

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine National Police, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency are the agencies that validated the names on the narco-list.

“I will continue to serve my duty as mayor and I will always help with the programs of President against illegal drugs. I have full support to the PNP,” he said.

Mayor Malones was thankful that his name was called because it only proved that “the validations had been released.”

“For my interpretation, the President called our names because they were already been validated. We submitted already ourselves for validations and the names had been released,” he said in a phone interview.

“They will submit it to Malacañang and to the Ombudsman to file the case against us and if there is not enough evidence, the Ombudsman will dismiss (the case),” he added.

Malones thanked the President that his name was called earlier so that he could prove that he is not guilty.

“I guarantee that I am not involved in the issue,” said Malones, who is running for vice mayor.

Malones and Betita said they were ready to answer the cases filed against them.

In 2016, Malones and Betita were also included on the narco-list read by the President.

Mayor Alex Centena of Calinog town and Maasin Vice Mayor Francis Amboy, whose names were listed on the 2016 list, were relieved not to be included on the latest list.

“At least, the personal pain that I felt and that were felt by my family and supporters is now gone. I thank everyone for the support and for those who helped in clearing my name that I am not a drug protector,” said Centena, who is seeking his town’s vice-mayoral seat, in a phone interview.
But Malones, referring mainly to Amboy, said it was too early to feel relief because the President was not yet done with the vetting process. “They should be worried because that only means that their validation undergoes a long and meticulous process,” (PNA)