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Luzon pols on drug list fear vigilante attacks, seek audience with Duterte

Either they’re victims of witch hunt or dirty politics
Mabalacat Mayor Marino Morales issues a video denial after President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned his name in the alleged list of politicians engaged in the illegal drugs trade. SCREENGRAB MARINO 'BOKING' MORALES VIDEO

Mabalacat Mayor Marino Morales issues a video denial after President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned his name in the alleged list of politicians engaged in the illegal drugs trade. SCREENGRAB MARINO ‘BOKING’ MORALES VIDEO

BAGUIO CITY — Northern and Central Luzon officials on the list of personalities tied to illegal drugs have reached out to their respective police officials, seeking an audience with President Duterte or Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa, to clear their names.

The announcement scared some of them because of recent vigilante attacks on people who were on drug watch lists released earlier.

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In Pampanga province, Mayor Marino Morales of Mabalacat City said he would present himself to Mr. Duterte on Monday (Aug. 8) to clear his name, admitting he feared for his life and the smear on his integrity.

Hours after the President named him, Morales said he called up officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government as well as Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda to deny that he was a protector of drug lords.

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“I have followed the President’s order to report to my superiors. I will also seek an audience with the President. I am willing to undergo investigation to protect the integrity of my family, myself and the people who have trusted me,” Morales said.

He said his political detractors could have provided wrong information to investigators. He did not identity them.

Marino Morales

Mayor Marino Morales (middle) of Mabalacat City, Pampanga presents himself to Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino, Central Luzon police director, on Sunday to express willingness to be investigated after President Duterte tagged him as involved in illegal drugs. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

In Pangasinan province, Rep. Jesus Celeste denied he was involved in illegal drugs, saying he was a victim of dirty politics. “This is sad and painful. My political detractors were successful in making the President believe that I’m into illegal drugs,” said Celeste, a former Bolinao town mayor.

He said his political rivals had tried to link him and his brother, former Pangasinan representative and now Alaminos City Mayor Arthur Celeste, to illegal drugs since 2001. “I was even accused of murder. But I have been cleared by the courts,” he said.

Pangasinan Rep. Jesus Celeste (RADYO INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

Pangasinan Rep. Jesus Celeste (RADYO INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

In La Union province, Mayor Martin de Guzman of Bauang town denied any involvement in illegal drugs, saying he was saddened by the announcement of Mr. Duterte.

The mayor’s spokesperson Cris Palabay said the mayor was one of the advocates of programs against drug abuse and peddling in his town. “He is a very religious person…. He will clear his name and no amount of black propaganda can put down his good name,” said Palabay in a text message.

In Cagayan province, Mayor Marjorie Apil-Salazar of Lasam town surrendered to the police on Sunday and was taken to the Cagayan Valley regional police office, said Senior Supt. Ronaldo Olay, Cagayan police director.

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Olay said they would present the mayor to Mr. Duterte “within 24 hours.”

Last year, the police discovered P3.5 billion worth of chemicals used in the manufacture of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in Lasam. In July, 180 kilograms of shabu were seized in Claveria town, also in Cagayan.  SFM

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