MANILA — If Naga City is not a hotbed of shabu (crystal meth), then city officials should prove it.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday made this challenge as he called on Naga City officials to be less “onion-skinned” and instead boost their efforts to eliminate illegal drugs in their city.
Last August 14, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he believed Vice President Leni Robredo could “not improve on anything,” citing her hometown as “a hotbed of shabu.”
“You can ask the hotbed of shabu in the past years. I would not mention the name kasi (because) — it was Naga City,” Duterte said during the launch of the Go Negosyo’s “Pilipinas Angat Lahat” Program in Malacañang.
Roque reiterated that the President has “access to all available information that only a President has access to” and did not need to prove it. However, he said Duterte will only apologize once proven wrong.
“The President doesn’t have to do that (prove it). He already has access to information. He said it, let it be. If he is wrong, he will apologize. Until he does, he stands by it,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.
Roque pointed out that Naga City officials should view Duterte’s remark as “constructive criticism.”
“Kung sa tingin nila mali ang Presidente, hindi hotbed of shabu ang Naga, patunayan nila. Labanan nila yung mga nagbebenta ng droga sa Naga (If they think that the President is wrong, that Naga is not a hotbed of shabu, they should prove it. They should arrest those selling drugs in Naga),” Roque said.
“Patunayan nilang hindi talaga hotbed of shabu, na shabu-free ang kanilang bayan (They should prove that they’re really not a hotbed of shabu, that their city is drug-free.) It should be constructive particularly on the part of public officers,” he added.
Roque further said Naga City officials should not take offense to Duterte’s remark if it were false.
“Kung talagang hindi siya hotbed for shabu, well, e di hindi siya hotbed ng shabu. Dapat ‘wag sila masyadong masaktan dahil alam nila ang katotohanan (If it’s not a hotbed of shabu, well, then it’s not. They shouldn’t get hurt if they know the truth),” Roque said.
“Focus on energies in combating the drug menace. Di na dapat pinag-aaksayahan ng government resources, ng pagod, ng panahon ‘yung mga ganyang statement (We shouldn’t waste government resources, effort, time, on statements like that),” he added.
Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Eduardo Año said the agency is still validating information bared by Duterte.
Robredo as well as Naga City officials earlier cried foul over Duterte’s “hotbed of shabu” tag. The Naga City Council has also passed a resolution condemning his remark.
Reports showed that Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Southern Luzon Director Christian Frivaldo has claimed that Manila’s drug situation is worse than Naga City.
Naga City Mayor John Bongat, meanwhile, denied that his city was “not doing anything” to put a stop to the illegal drug trade. PNA-northboundasia.com