BACOLOD CITY -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte has clarified that he never identified or named Mayor Evelio Leonardia as among the local government officials involved in the illegal drug trade as he endorsed the incumbent official in his reelection bid.
The Chief Executive issued the statement in a video uploaded on the verified Rody Duterte Facebook page on Thursday morning, following speculations that the President accused Leonardia as such when he called him during his speech at the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) senatorial campaign rally in Victorias City, Negros Occidental last March 8.
The President started by saying that he has something to say to the people of Bacolod that has “something to do with the (upcoming) election” and the candidates.
Then he talked about what he apparently learned about the statement of Leonardia’s predecessor, Monico Puentevella, that he linked the incumbent mayor to the illegal drug trade.
The President said the claim of Puentevella that he named Leonardia as among those with illegal drug links is not true.
“Yung sinabi ni Mayor Monico na pinangalanan ko si (Mayor) Leonardia as one of (those involved) hindi totoo ‘yun (What Mayor Monico said that I mentioned the name of (Mayor) Leonardia as one of (those involved) is untrue),” he added.
“Ayokong gamitin ang pangalan ko for something that is not true (I don’t want my name be used for something that is not true),” the President said.
The President clarified that when he talked about drugs and rattled off the names, “I never mentioned the name of Mayor Leonardia. I just mentioned the names and sinabi ko: ‘Di ba mayor, nandun ka? (Weren’t you there?) I was referring to a previous meeting dito sa opisina ko (here at my office)’,” he said.
Duterte added that it is not right that his statement is being “purposely and intentionally” twisted, and told Puentevella not to do it.
“My advice to Mayor Monico huwag ganun. Tapos gamitin niyo yung pangalan ko, yung speeches ko in-splice ninyo tapos dinagdagan ninyo, pinaghahalo ninyo na lumabas na si Mayor Leonardia nasa dulo mali po ‘yun, (I advised Mayor Monico not to be like that. You used my name, my speeches were spliced then you padded and mixed, you made it appeared that I mentioned Mayor Leonardia at the end, that’s wrong),” he said.
The President also said both Leonardia and Puentevella are not included in the “narco-list” that included the names of other politicians.
Puentevella, who was the city mayor from 2013 to 2016, is seeking a comeback for the congressional post in the Lone District of Bacolod under the MKK Bacolod party, which he occupied for three terms before he became a mayor.
Leonardia, who heads the Grupo Progreso, is seeking a second term after he returned as mayor in 2016 when he defeated Puentevella.
The President ended his video message by saying that he supports Leonardia’s reelection bid.
“I am supporting Leonardia for the mayorship of Bacolod City. I think he’s the better guy, more direct and honest. Siya ang gusto kung maging mayor (he is my choice for mayor). I am supporting him,” the Chief Executive added. (PNA)
Photo by Merlinda Pedrosa/Sunstar