PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Two Palawan mayors recently stripped of their police powers by the National Police Commission (Napolcom) in their respective municipalities both denied Friday that they are “drug protectors.”

Mayor Abbraham Ibba of Bataraza, in a phone interview with PNA, said his inclusion in the list is hurting not only him and his family, but also his supporters.

“Ang masasabi ko lang dyan, pagdating sa drugs, nauna pa akong sumunod sa nais ni Pangulong Duterte na labanan ang drugs dito sa Bataraza. Marami na akong napahuli, napakulong dahil sa drugs. Masakit ito sa atin (What I can say is that when it’s about drugs, I was probably ahead of everyone in heeding President Duterte’s call to fight drugs here in Bataraza. I have sent many to prison because of drugs),” said Ibba.

El Nido’s lady chief executive, Mayor Nieves Cabunalda-Rosento, in an interview by local radio station Bandera also on Friday, vehemently denied being a narco-politician after learning about her inclusion in the Napolcom list.

“Una, wala pa po tayong na-receive na opisyal na papel bagama’t kahapon ay nakita na natin ito sa ilang mga news. Noong una, tayo po syempre ay nagulat po ano. Hindi po naman natin inaasahan ang mga pangyayari pong ito. Wala naman po tayong mga kinalaman sa mga bagay na ito, and alam naman po ng mga kababayan natin yan, that we are innocent with this accusation (First, we have not received any official document although yesterday we already saw this in the news. At first, of course, I was surprised. I did not expect this. I don’t have anything to do with it, and my constituents know that, that we are innocent),” Rosento said.

Ibba is blaming his “political enemies” for his inclusion in the list of supposed narco-politicians. However, he did not mention names.

“Wala naman ibang gagawa nito kung hindi ang mga kalaban sa pulitika. Masakit talaga ito. May konti akong ari-arian, ‘yon lang naman. Tapos drug protector daw ako? (There is no one who will do this except for my political enemies. It really hurts. I have a small business, and it’s just that. Now, I am a drug protector?),” Ibba, who owns a foreign exchange business, said.

The Bataraza mayor, who said he used to join drug raids in his town, cannot believe the news about the resolution that was signed by Napolcom vice chairman and executive officer Rogelio Casurao; Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Ronald dela Rosa; and three other commissioners.

“May pagkakataon naman kami sumagot kasi parang subpoena ang dadating sa amin baka mga next week. Sasagutin ko talaga sa parang counter-affidavit. Ni hindi ako nakakatikim niyang drugs. Masakit talaga ito at nakakahiya (We have a chance to explain ourselves because what will probably be sent to us is in the form of a subpoena. I will answer and clear myself in my counter-affidavit. I have not tried drugs. This really hurts and is embarrassing),” the Bataraza mayor said.

On the other hand, Rosento said that since she is already in the list, she will wait for the official order from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to be able to reply.

Both said that if they will be told to go to Napolcom to explain their sides, they will do so as their inclusion in the list was just an “allegation.”

On Thursday, the Napolcom announced that Zamboanga del Sur Governor Antonio Cerilles and 18 mayors will be stripped of their police powers due to either abuse of authority or involvement in illegal drugs.

The announcement came after Napolcom chairman and acting DILG chief Catalino Cuy signed the resolution on October 30. (PNA)