MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday said he is standing by his earlier statement that Naga City, the hometown of Vice President Leni Robredo, is a “hotbed of shabu.”
“I stand by my word that Naga is the hotbed of shabu. Yung brother-in-law niya yung nagdala ng drugs doon sa Bicol. Totoo ‘yan (It was her brother-in-law that brought drugs to Bicol. That’s true),” Duterte said in his speech during the 49th Charter Day celebration at Mandaue City, Cebu.
Duterte was referring to Butch Robredo, brother of late Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo.
It was former Naga City councilor Luis Ortega who first claimed that the Vice President’s brother-in-law was involved in the drug trade.
Malacañang, meanwhile, said Ortega’s’ statement backed the President’s claim and should be investigated.
“Ito po ay isang development na dapat talagang imbestigahan pa ano (This is a development that should be investigated),” Roque said in a radio interview last Aug. 22.
“Kung may mga ganitong pangyayari, eh dapat malaman natin anong mga hakbang na ginawa ni Bise Presidente, para mapatupad ang batas sa sarili niyang siyudad at sa sarili niyang mga kapamilya (If there are incidents like this, we have to know the steps taken by Vice President to implement laws in her own city and her own family),” he added.
Roque earlier challenged officials to prove that Naga City is not a hotbed of shabu as the President claimed.
He urged them to be less “onion-skinned” and instead boost their efforts to eliminate illegal drugs in their city.
Roque said the President has “access to all available information that only a President has access to” and did not need to prove it. However, he said Duterte will only apologize once proven wrong.
“The President doesn’t have to do that (prove it). He already has access to information. He said it, let it be. If he is wrong, he will apologize. Until he does, he stands by it,” Roque said in a Palace briefing on August 20.
Roque added that Naga City officials should view Duterte’s remark as “constructive criticism.”
“Kung sa tingin nila mali ang Presidente, hindi hotbed of shabu ang Naga, patunayan nila. Labanan nila yung mga nagbebenta ng droga sa Naga (If they think that the President is wrong, that Naga is not a hotbed of shabu, they should prove it. They should arrest those selling drugs in Naga),” Roque said.
Law enforcement agencies are currently validating information bared by Duterte.
Meanwhile, Robredo as well as Naga City officials slammed Duterte’s “hotbed of shabu” tag. The Naga City Council has also passed a resolution condemning his remark.
Naga City Mayor John Bongat denied that there was a lack of action by the local officials to put a end to the illegal drug trade in the city. (ANP/PNA)