BOLINAO—First District Rep. Jesus Celeste said he was both surprised and puzzled why his name was still included in the narco-politicians list read by President Duterte Thursday night since he was already cleared by the provincial police and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) over allegations of his alleged drug link.
Celeste said the RPOC is composed of a composite team from the Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of Interior and Local Government. He said he submitted himself to an investigation at the police regional office.
He suspects that the RPOC’s investigation report late last year clearing him did not reach the President that showed he was not involved in any illegal drug activities.
Nonetheless, he said he welcomes the case filed by the Department of Interior and Local Government before the Office of Ombudsman together with 45 other politicians in the list so he can clear himself again.
“It’s better this way because I know I am innocent and this will finally put an end to this allegation often hurled at me every election,” Celeste said.
He said his constituents know him better having consistently won the elections despite the drug issue raised by his opponents. Celeste is now in his third and last term as congressman. Prior to that, he served as mayor of Bolinao.
Celeste added that at the height of the discovery of 70 cocaine bricks in the coastal waters in Siargao last month, he asked the Coast Guard, to intensify its patrol of the coastal waters especially in his hometown in Bolinao.
“Our opponents might intentionally dump a sack of drugs to float in the coastal water near my residence and spread malicious fake news about it to pin me down,” he said.
He said the accusation against him is “99 percent politically motivated”. (PhilStar Wire Service)
Also in that list are 29 mayors, four vice mayor, one board member and one former mayor.
President Duterte confirmed that those in the list were already validated. The list, he added, was based on intelligence report of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Those in the list are now facing administrative cases before the Office of the Ombudsman, he added.
Celeste, who is not running for any position in this election, denied his involvement whatsoever in illegal drugs.
His name and those of two mayors of La Union were earlier recommended by the Regional Peace and Order Council of Region, chaired by Ilocos Norte Imee Marcos, to be removed from the list of narco-politicians.
President Duterte said the name of Celeste crops up every year in the narco list.
Meanwhile his brother, Alaminos City Mayor Arthur Celeste told newsmen that although his elder brother Jesus was tagged in the narco list, he wants to make it clear that he was never called out being involved in illegal drug activities, and was never included in a narco list.
He said he was making this clear because his political opponents are spreading the rumor he, too, was into illegal drug activities.
Although Cong. Celeste is not running for reelection, his brother Arthur is running for governor, his other brother, Bolinao Mayor Noli Celeste, is running for congressman in the First District. Arth Brian, son of Art and Liga ng Barangay Federation president, is running for mayor of Alaminos City.
The camp of Governor Amado Espino III, meanwhile, refuses to comment on the matter although they were reportedly pleased with the release of the narco-list. (Leonardo Micua)
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