By Chito Chavez
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) stressed that it is within the right of the politicians named in the narco-list to file charges against the agencies that validated and included them in the shame list.
In an exclusive interview, DILG undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said he understands if some of them decide to refute or rebut the allegations in the Office of the Ombudsman.
On Thursday, the DILG on orders of President Duterte filed charges against 46 narco-politicians named publicly by the President.
“That is now the proper venue,’’ Malaya said.
When asked if another set of narco-politicians would soon be announced, Malaya made no assurance but insisted the Duterte government will intensely pounce on them until such time that not a single soul of drug-linked local official is in existence.
“We don’t know if and when additional persons will be charged as well,’’ he added.
Malaya said the DILG will await the result of the investigation, evaluation and validation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) that is led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
The 46 names Duterte bared on Thursday night have been slapped with administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Citing it as merely incidental, Malaya refuted claims that the release of the narco-list was merely intended to besmirch the reputation of the May 2019 mid-term elections aspirants not aligned with the Duterte administration.
Malaya also expressed confidence that the Ombudsman will give a favorable decision on their complaints.
However, politicians tagged in the new narco-list denied their involvement in illegal drugs.
Re-electionist San Rafael, Bulacan Mayor Cipriano Violago Jr. said his inclusion in the shame list is politically motivated since he has been cooperative with all forms of investigation conducted on me since 2016.
He said he was even cleared by the municipal, provincial, regional levels and even by the police at Camp Crame.
Violago expressed readiness to face any form of re-investigation just to clear his name which has been severely tarnished saying “they can never put a good man down’’.
Subic Mayor Jefferson “Jay’’ Khonghun who is running for vice-governor in the 2019 mid-term elections denied the allegations saying that his political rival was behind the campaign to shame him.
He claimed that his family never got involved in illegal drugs in any form saying that his family has never been impoverished.
House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chairman Vicente Veloso of Leyte who is the highest ranked lawmaker in the narco-list denied his involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Veloso said he will file criminal charges against those who included him in the narco-list and will ask President Duterte to fire them if they cannot substantiate their accusations against him.