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Leyte lawmaker in narco-list to probe why he is being linked to illegal drugs

Leyte lawmaker in narco-list to probe why he is being linked to illegal drugs

TACLOBAN CITY — Rep. Vicente “Ching” Veloso of Leyte’s 3rd congressional district is not about to take his inclusion in the narco-list sitting down.

He planned to initiate a congressional inquiry when session resumes on May 22 to ask why his name was among the 46 politicians allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

He also vowed to file a criminal case against some personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Philippine National Police, and the Department of Interior and Local Government for including his name without any basis.

But Veloso didn’t blame President Duterte who released the names on Thursday night.

“He is just like a father doing what his children asked him to do. He is just doing his work. He said that (the list) is verified but I am far from that,” said Veloso, who is running for a second term this May polls.

Veloso said his inclusion in the so-called narco-list didn’t only besmirch his reputation but also put his and his family’s security at stake.

“I am concerned now with my security. After this baka ma-tokhang na ako,” he said, referring to how anti-narcotics personnel carry out their anti-illegal drug campaign which, some human rights groups say result to the deaths of some drug suspects.

Veloso said he also feared for the security of his family who wanted him to withdraw from the congressional race.

Veloso said he would go on with his reelection bid since he continued to enjoy the support of the people in the district.

“They told me never to surrender and give up,” he said.

Veloso lamented that he had never been into drugs and didn’t even drink, smoke or gamble.

“I have been known here (in the third congressional district) as a performing politician and not as a narco-politician,” he added.

Veloso, who belongs to an influential political clan in Eastern Visayas, said one of his thrusts as a lawmaker is to eliminate the proliferation of illegal drugs in his district.

He even joined the PDEA in its anti-drugs campaign and had donated motorcycles for the agency’s operations.

Veloso recalled that in one of the Senate hearings conducted by its committee on public order and illegal drugs, he confronted Kerwin Espinosa, self-confessed drug kingpin of Eastern Visayas.

Espinosa, he added, had denied the congressman was involved in the illegal drugs trade and had apologized to him since Veloso’s name was included as among those politicians whom Espinosa had dealings with.

“I thought this is over. This is just a rehash of the previous accusation. It’s election time,” he said.