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Ex-mayor laments ‘vicious lie’

/ 12:16 AM December 23, 2016

A few days ago my name was read on national television by President Duterte from a thick list of supposed drug personalities. It was not specified if I was suspected of being a drug protector, a drug lord, or a user. For my family and me, it was as if the world had caved in on us. I was overcome with emotions: disbelief, anger, shame, and, yes, fear. But after this first wave of emotions came a firm, unflinching resolve to stand bravely, clear my name, and bring to justice those who perpetrated this malicious lie, a lie which, against the backdrop of a raging war on drugs, might just become a death sentence for me.

How did my name land on that list of 6,000 suspected drug-related criminals? I am certain that the President does not hold a personal grudge against me, as our interaction has been limited to the fact of our being mayors. In fact, then Mayor Duterte was among the first to visit Iligan City to sympathize with the victims of Tropical Storm “Sendong” in December 2011, and he came to my office with generous offers of help and advice.

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The police and intelligence community in Iligan, and the PDEA, PNP, CIDG and NBI are unanimous in saying that I am not and never was on their list of drug suspects. The PNP city director himself said on radio that I was never on their list.

So why was my name included? Who inserted it? What was their basis?

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Politics in Iligan, like anywhere else, can be very dirty and vicious. But remarkably, throughout my continuous years as a public servant—since I was elected chair of the Kabataang Barangay in 1985, then for three terms as city councilor, then for one term as vice mayor, and finally for three terms as city mayor, and until my first defeat this year (I took a leave from public service from 2013 to 2016)—the issue of drugs was never raised as an issue against me, neither as a hint nor an insinuation.

The only conclusion I can come up with is that it was a polluted source, a deliberate insertion made by someone who had access to, or had a hand in the preparation of, the list submitted to the President. It could not be the President because he has no motive to pin down with a lie a small-time politician such as myself. Whoever it was, he or she is inflicting great shame and distress on me and my family, as well as damaging the credibility of the “lists” that have been produced in the context of the President’s campaign against drugs.

I am appealing to the President to look into my case. That I am being tagged as a narco-politician is proof that there is a serious flaw in the process of drafting these drug lists. I appeal to the administration to immediately review and rectify these errors, because innocent lives are at stake. I am hopeful that the President will take time to look once again into these lists, and confident that it will not be difficult for him to see that he has been fed a vicious lie.

LAWRENCE LLUCH CRUZ, former mayor, Iligan City

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TAGS: Duterte, Iligan City, letter, Letter to the Editor, opinion, Sendong
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