Roque to Naga officials: Duterte doesn't need to prove shabu claim

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang brushed aside the resolution of Naga City officials condemning President Rodrigo Duterte for calling their city a "hotbed of shabu."

Saying Duterte does not need to prove his controversial claim, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque advised Naga City to develop thicker skin.

"People in government should not be onion-skinned. The balm to wounded feelings is a clean conscience," said Roque on Monday, August 20, during a Palace news briefing.

"Kung talagang hindi sila hotbed of shabu, eh 'di hindi sila hotbed ng shabu. Dapat huwag sila masyadong masaktan kasi 'yan ang katotohanan," he added.

(If they really aren't a hotbed for shabu, then they aren't a hotbed for shabu. They shouldn't get hurt if what they say is the truth.)

The Naga City Council accused Duterte of making his claim about their city "irresponsibly and without factual basis." Roque said there is no need for Duterte to prove his claim since he likely based this on "other sources of information" that only a president would receive.

"The President does not have to do that (show proof). He said it, let it be.... If he is wrong, he will apologize. Until he does, he stands by it," said Roque. 

However, Duterte has been known to make false or inaccurate claims before. His lists of supposed narcopoliticians are full of inaccuracies. Duterte himself admitted he was in the wrong when he claimed former Pangasinan governor and now 5th District Representative Amado Espino Jr was involved in drug trafficking.

Rather than issue such resolutions, the Naga City Council should "focus energies on combating the drug menace," said Duerte's spokesman.

The Naga City Council mentioned in its resolution that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency's Southern Luzon Office had said Manila's drug problem is worse than Naga City.

It also listed down Naga City's various anti-drug efforts and rehabilitation campaigns. –

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at