MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Several mayors publicly named by President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday, August 7, denied their alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
In the province of Pampanga, Mabalacat Mayor Marino "Boking" Morales said he is willing to undergo any investigation to clear his name and preserve his integrity.
"Asahan po ninyo, mahal na Pangulo, na kasama ninyo po ako sa paglaban sa illegal drugs at pupunta po kami sa inyo para mag-report at para po kahit papaano ay mai-explain po namin sa inyo na ako po ay walang koneksyon at hindi po ako protector ng illegal drugs dito sa aming bayan," said Morales in a video posted on his Facebook page on Sunday.
(Rest assured, beloved President, that I am one with you in the fight against illegal drugs, and I will present myself before you to report and to explain that I have no links to drugs and I am not a protector of drug lords in our town.)
Morales added that only Duterte can solve the longtime problem of illegal drugs.
"Matagal na po nating nilalabanan ito at dumating kayo kaya naayos sa kasalukuyan. Ang atin pong mga kababayan ay nasisiyahan dahil kayo po ay talagang dedicated para ma-eliminate itong problemang ito," he said.
(We've long been fighting this problem, and because of you, we're now able to really address the issue. Our countrymen are delighted that you're very dedicated to eliminating this problem.)
A few days ago, Morales met with barangay captains of Mabalacat and promised to give P1 million in financial aid to barangays that will be declared drug-free by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Lasam Mayor Marjorie Salazar
Meanwhile, in Cagayan province, Lasam Mayor Marjorie Salazar reported on Sunday to the regional head of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Salazar declined to answer questions from the media, but Cagayan Valley regional police director Chief Superintendent Gilbert Sosa said Salazar maintained her innocence.
"When she found out about it, she called me to present herself. Then I asked guidance from the head office. They are requesting her to report in Manila tomorrow (Monday, August 8)," Sosa said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Sosa said Salazar asked for security in traveling to Manila.
The regional police chief added that they are also looking into the allegations against the Lasam mayor.
Ozamiz Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr
In Misamis Occidental, Ozamiz Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr also vowed to clear his name. He plans to report to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), as directed by President Rodrigo Duterte in his Davao City speech.
Parojinog, addressing locals at the "Run Away From Drugs" fun run in Ozamiz, added that he has been fighting illegal drugs since 2001.
"My name has been dragged despite 15 years of efforts to transform our city. You know all about this, we have been fighting drugs," Parojinog said.
He also told residents to report suspected drug pushers, and warned those involved in the drug trade that they would face violence if they resist the war on drugs.
Laoang Mayor Hector Ong & ex-mayor Madeleine Ong
In Northern Samar, Laoang Mayor Hector Ong and former mayor Madeleine Ong, both on Duterte's list, said in a statement that they are "anti-illegal drugs crusaders."
"I will clear my name because the President himself has assured us that we will be given due process. But clearly, I categorically deny that we are narco-politicians. We are public servants," the current mayor was quoted as saying.
"I think the list should be reviewed. But I trust that President Duterte will accord us due process," added the former mayor. "In fact, we actively support President Duterte's strong stance against illegal drugs. We will not allow illegal drugs to ruin our nation's future."
The Ongs said they would report to Camp Crame in Quezon City and cooperate with authorities.
Basay Mayor Beda Camanaque
The mayor of Basay, Negros Oriental also surrendered on Sunday. Negros Oriental regional police acting director Senior Superintendent Nestor Tiempo confirmed that Basay Mayor Beda Canamaque reported to his office in the afternoon.
Tiempo said the mayor insisted that he was not involved in the drug trade, and even took a drug test.
For his part, Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo said he was "shocked" to learn that Canamaque was included in Duterte's list because the mayor is very active in the campaign against illegal drugs in his town.
"Let's give him time to clear his name," Degamo added.
Ex-Cebu City Mayor Michael 'Mike' Rama
Meanwhile, one of the former officials included in Duterte's list, ex-Cebu City Mayor Michael "Mike" Rama, denied the accusation and described it as "saddening."
Rama posted his statement on his Facebook page and said he would "fully cooperate with the authorities" to clear his name.
The former mayor added: "My unwavering support for President Duterte's campaign will continue. My family and I have always been law-abiding citizens and have been very clear about our stand against drugs. May justice prevail and the truth set us free." – with reports from Jun A. Malig, Raymon Dullana, Bobby Lagsa, & Marchel P. Espina / Rappler.com