PNH: Walden Bello “threats” to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs

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THE Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), the founding party of vice-presidential candidate and Davao mayor, Sara Duterte-Carpio, considers vice-presidential aspirant Walden Bello a “threat” to the anti- government illegal drug.

On Monday evening, March 21, the PNH released a statement following Bello’s claims that Davao City is the “drug hub” of the southern part of the Philippines.

“As a running mate in a narcopolitics, as someone who knowingly and willfully refused to disclose information or cooperate with authorities, Mr. Bello has just presented himself as a danger to peace and order and a threat to the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign,” the regional party said in a statement.

The PNH said it was alarmed by Bello’s recent claims that the town is a center for the illegal drug trade in the South.

“The PNH takes this information seriously as a regional party with incumbents who want to strengthen our coordination with law enforcement agencies fighting the proliferation of banned drugs,” the party said.

Bello made the statements during the Electoral Commission (Comelec) PiliPinas 2022: The Turning Point debates on Sunday evening, March 20.

“Davao [is] the southern drug hub under the control of a member of the Duterte family. My God! That’s something…we need to bring that out so people can look at Sara Duterte’s case,” Bello said.

The PNH said the former lawmaker’s claims that he held his information with law enforcement.

“[I]“It is evident that he has information about illegal drugs in Davao but deliberately withheld it from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police,” the party said.

“Mr. Bello can be said to be a narcopolitician in the sense that he concealed crucial information in the government’s anti-drug campaign,” added the PNH.

The party said it has already called for an investigation into the extent of Bello’s “knowledge of and involvement in illegal drug trafficking” in the city.

Bello said he would focus on “cleaning up” President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown if he wins the May 2022 election.

SunStar Davao has reached out to Liloan, Cebu Mayor Christina Frasco, spokesperson for Duterte-Carpio, for the mayor’s comment on Bello’s latest remark online, but she has not responded at the time of writing.

Frasco had already said in a previous report that Duterte-Carpio would not attend any debates and would instead focus on the campaign.

‘Ayaw pagtinalawan’

Bello responded to the PNH’s statement in a Facebook post on Tuesday, March 22, saying he was a “narcopolitician” is “ridiculous.”

“I am not, and have never been, involved in drug trafficking. It is also simply untrue that I “knowingly and deliberately refused to disclose information or cooperate with the authorities”, to use the words of the PNH”, he said.

He added that no government agency had asked him for information.

“So how could I ‘refuse’ to divulge information? Bello said.

The candidate said it was based on his statement that the city was “the drug hub of the South”.

He said these came from some people, including those he met in Davao City last week, while campaigning with his running mate Leody de Guzman and Partido candidates Lakas ng Masa.

“[I]It is an ‘open secret’ that their town became the ‘drug hub of the South’ under the control of the Duterte family,” Bello said.

“If the PNH were serious, they should accuse so many people of knowingly and deliberately refusing to disclose information or cooperate with the authorities,” Bello added.

He also reiterated his call for Duterte-Carpio to come forward in the proceedings and answer his questions about it.

“Only one way for Sara to answer these questions: attend the debates. Stop being a coward and stop disrespecting the Filipino people,” Bello said.

But he said the mayor, instead of attending the proceedings, claimed that former Davao City information officer Jefry Tupas had filed a multimillion-dollar cyberlibel case against him.

“I reiterate my challenge to Sara Duterte: ‘Wag kang duwag. Ayaw pagtinalawan (Don’t be a coward.) Face me in a debate,” Bello said.

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