Aquino said the erring barangay chairmen and kagawads should be exposed so that voters would not vote for them in the coming elections.
Michael Varcas
PDEA to release names of 289 ‘narco’ barangay execs
Miriam Desacada (The Philippine Star) - April 19, 2018 - 12:00am

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino announced yesterday that the agency would release to the public the list of close to 300 barangay officials from Eastern Visayas who are allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.

Aquino said the erring barangay chairmen and kagawads should be exposed so that voters would not vote for them in the coming elections.

“We have to publish their names so that if they are candidates now for the upcoming SK and barangay elections, hindi sila iboto (they should not be elected), because actually they are there to help the government campaign in the anti-illegal drugs pero wala eh, they are into illegal drugs by way of trading, using and protectors, so what shall we do – the people and the constituents should know they are not worthy to be voted anymore,” Aquino told a press conference here.

Aquino said the 289 erring barangay officials are included in the narcolists submitted to the Office of the President and the PDEA.

Aquino visited Candahug Palo in Tacloban for the opening of the PDEA regional office and announced to the public that authorities have cleared 1,618 villages out of 2,552 barangays affected by illegal drugs in the region.

PDEA regional director Edgar Jubay said 10 personalities in Region 8 are allegeldy involved in narcopolitics. 

Jubay clarified that the list included one congressman and barangay officials but there is no mayor or governor.

Leonard Winstanley, president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) in Misamis Oriental, urged all barangay candidates in his province to submit themselves to a drug test. 

Winstanley added that he is confident that no incumbent barangay official from Misamis Oriental is on the list because many of them have taken the drug test voluntarily.

In Cagayan de Oro City, ABC president Yam Lam Lim said releasing the drug list that included village officials would expose the barangay officials to “trial by publicity” without the benefit of prosecution.

Raps vs village execs

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday expressed support to the plan of the Department of the Interior and Local Governmnent (DILG) to file administrative charges against 31,000 barangay chairmen that failed to organize community anti-illegal drugs councils.

According to Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, there is no problem if DILG will sue the barangay leaders who failed to create Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADACs).

However, he said the filing of charges against the concerned barangay officials is not covered by the election ban on the transfer, suspension or sanctions against government officials during the current election period in connection with the May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls.

He said the suspension of barangay officials during the election period could be questioned. The election period is in effect from April 14 to May 20.

“From what I know, there’s no actual suspension. If there is, it would be something that the Comelec would want to look into because there is a prohibition on that,” he said at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum at Cafe Adriatico in Malate, Manila. 

On Tuesday, the DILG had announced that some 31,000 barangay chairmen face administrative charges for failing to activate the BADACs to fortify the Duterte administration’s war against illegal drugs.

Jimenez added even if the case is filed during the election period, it might not have a “tangible effect on the conduct of the elections.” 

For his part, DILG Undersecretary Martin Diño told the forum that the concerned barangay chairmen have mostly been in the position for five years but they did not set up the BADACs.

He said even if some of these officials are running in next month’s elections, their cases will continue whether or not they win. 

“Why didn’t they put up a functional BADAC? We have been asking them to do so but they ignored us,” Diño added.  

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol warned barangay and SK candidates not to nail their election posters on trees.

“They (candidates) would be held liable for complaint and then for possible cases filed against them under Presidential Decree 953,” said Roberto Sheen, assistant regional director for Technical Services of the DENR in Bicol.

Presidential Decree 953 stipulates the penalties against the unauthorized cutting, destruction, damaging and injuring of certain trees, plants and vegetation.

“Nailing election posters on trees exposes the trees to harmful elements,” he said.

Sheen recalled that he really implemented the provision of PD 953 specifically on “destroying, damaging and injuring of trees” during elections when he was assigned in Sorsogon province.

Although serving in the polls is voluntary for public school teachers, the Comelec said yesterday there are enough teachers that will serve in the Board of Election Tellers (BET) for the coming polls.

However, Jimenez noted the question now is if all of the teachers would actually show up at their assigned polling precincts on election day.

“Our complement of teachers is complete. But it’s a different matter to see on election day, who will actually show up. That’s something that we are watching for,” he added.

In previous polls, there were teachers who would not report to their polling precincts on election day because they were being coerced or threatened by candidates and their supporters.  

This situation was more rampant when the elections were still manual, in which the burden of determining a valid vote lay with the teachers.  

The coming May 14 polls is the first time that the country will hold manual elections since automated voting and counting was introduced in 2010.

Jimenez said they have a backup plan in case a teacher fails to show up at the polling precinct.

He added that private teachers and governnent employees will be ready to take over duties of the absent teachers.

At present, the Comelec and the Department of Education are discussing the compensation package and assistance that will be given to teachers. –  With Sheila Crisostomo, Celso Amo, Gerry Lee Gorit

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