Leyte 3rd District Rep. Vicente Veloso. INQUIRER file photo
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker tagged as among the alleged “narco-politicians” revealed by President Rodrigo Duterte said the House of Representatives’ briefing on the “narcolist” should push through, as he accused law enforcement agencies of “hiding behind the immunity” of the Chief Executive.
READ: Duterte exposes 46 ‘narco politicians’ | DILG files administrative cases vs 46 politicians in ‘narcolist’
“Maganda talagang ma-ano ito because klarong itong PDEA (This hearing should continue because it is clear that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) is running berserk eh,” Leyte 3rd District Rep. Vicente Veloso told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview Tuesday. He had requested the congressional inquiry.
“(These agencies are) hiding behind the immunity of the President, they can easily label people… madali nilang sirain eh (they can easily destroy reputations),” he added, claiming that “no proper validation took place” before publicizing the list. “It’s now a piece of fake news.”
Veloso said dangerous drugs committee chair and Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers told him that the committee would try to reschedule its hearing before Holy Week. The panel canceled its scheduled Tuesday’s hearing due to failure to constitute a quorum, according to the panel secretariat.
“Sabi ni chairman Barbers, ire-reset sana before the Holy Week (Chairman Barbers told me we would try to reset the hearing before Holy Week),” the former Court of Appeals associate justice said.
“Hirap kaming mag-convene (It is hard to convene a hearing) because all members of Congress are already nasa (in the) field na eh,” he added, referring to the ongoing national and local campaign period for the May 13 midterm elections.
Veloso, chair of the House constitutional amendments panel said he was also informed that PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino could not make it.
READ: Leyte lawmaker in narco-list to probe why he is being linked to illegal drugs | Veloso slams inclusion in ‘narcolist,’ says it’s politically motivated
“Ayaw namin na ‘yung mga representatives lang nila mag-aappear (We don’t want them to just send their representatives),” he said.
The district congressman, meanwhile, said he would pursue filing charges against officials who validated the list after he finds more evidence during the hearing.
“Tutuloy ko ‘yun (I will pursue filling charges)… But I want to build a solid case (first),” said Veloso who is gunning for a second term under the National Unity Party.
Ivy Jacinto, from the dangerous drugs committee secretariat, confirmed that the panel canceled the meeting because other committee members could not attend. She said they need at least seven lawmakers to constitute a quorum.
Jacinto said other government agencies like the PDEA, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police did not decline the committee’s invitation.
The other House members included in the list were outgoing Pangasinan 1st District Rep. Jesus Celeste and re-electionist Zambales 1st District Rep. Jeffrey Khonghun. Both of their camps have denied the accusations, and both claimed to be members of the President’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan. /jpv
READ: Celeste eyes raps vs those who put him in ‘narcolist,’ Khonghun to consult with lawyer | Subic mayor in ‘narcolist’ denies links to illegal drugs
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