MANILA - Former congressman Vicente Belmonte and former Mayor Lawrence Cruz of Iligan City are both ready to undergo investigation to refute President Duterte's claim that they had engaged in the illegal drug trade.
Speaking to radio DZMM, Belmonte said he and Cruz are also appealing for an audience with Duterte so they could clear their names from the narcotics trade.
"We are willing to submit ourselves to investigation. And if possible, we hope for a chance to explain personally to President Duterte to air our side," Belmonte told radio DZMM.
He added, "I deny any involvement with drugs, never in my life."
Belmonte, a three-term representative of Iligan City, served as chair of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs during the 15th and 16th Congresses.
He authored Republic Act 10640 which sought to amend and strengthen the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act.
He also pushed for bills seeking to exempt drug-related cases from the Anti-Wiretapping Law and revive death penalty for narcotics trafficking and other heinous crimes.
Recognizing the extent of the country's drug problem, Belmonte said he also penned a House committee letter urging then President Benigno Aquino III to boost anti-narcotics efforts.
He said he also encouraged the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to create satellite offices and personally provided its agents with safe houses, vehicles and regular allowances.
Highlighting his past contributions to the drug war, Belmonte asked "How can I be a drug protector kung ganoon?"
"NOT DUTERTE'S FAULT"
Duterte on Monday said he had to "squeeze" everybody before he found out that barangay captains, mayors, governors and several congressmen were involved in the distribution.
He then brandished his list of narco-politicians which allegedly includes Belmonte, Cruz and a certain Willy Lim.
Duterte names more alleged 'narco-politicians'
Belmonte said he fully supports the President's campaign against drugs but insisted that the list of supposedly drug-tainted officials may have a "one percent error margin" that covers him and Cruz.
He blamed his political opponents for the wrong information that reached Duterte.
"Hindi kasalanan ni Presidente. Baka kasalanan ng nagbibigay ng impormasyon," he said.
(It is not Duterte's fault. It may be the fault of the source of information.)
Sharing his fear for his family's safety, he also appealed: "Takot at kahiyaan ang feeling ko ngayon. Sana malagpasan namin ito. Sana iyung katotohanan lalabas."
(Fear and shame are what I feel right now. I hope we can overcome this. May the truth come out.)
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