PDEA director general Aaron Aquino said he received a call from Malacañang on Tuesday and he was directed to release within the week the names of 211 incumbent barangay officials linked to illegal drugs.
Boy Santos
Barangay narco list out this week
(The Philippine Star) - April 26, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has ordered the release of the narco list that includes barangay officials involved in the illegal drug trade ahead of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on May 14, the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said yesterday.

PDEA director general Aaron Aquino said he received a call from Malacañang on Tuesday and he was directed to release within the week the names of 211 incumbent barangay officials linked to illegal drugs.

“Somebody called me and sabi niya the President wants you to give the list to the public,” he said, adding that it was Special Assistant to the President Bong Go who called.

The PDEA chief said that he hopes that the release of the names would help the electorate in choosing their local leaders wisely.

Aquino said he fears that drug money would again be used in the local elections, which would pave the way for individuals to win office despite their connection to illegal drugs.

The narcolist includes 89 barangay chairmen and 122 kagawad or councilmen, for a total of 211 names.

He said he would have to ask Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) officer-in-charge Eduardo Año on how the narcolist would be published and released to the public by Friday.

Año earlier expressed his support for the publishing of names included in the narcolist so that voters would pick ideal barangay leaders.

Aquino gave assurance that the individuals they would name as part of the barangay drug list have had their connections with illegal drugs confirmed by law enforcement agencies.

Meanwhile, poll watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) yesterday called on voters to reject ‘epal’ candidates in the May 14 barangay and SK polls.

“Candidates who campaign before the start of the actual period are unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of a loophole in the law,” said LENTE project director Rona Ann Caritos.

Epal candidates pertain to bets who are campaigning ahead of the campaign period. For next month’s elections, the campaign period runs from May 4 to 12.

Caritos also noted that voters and candidates should adhere to the allowable spending limit, which is only P5 per registered voter.

CHR cautions PDEA

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has cautioned the PDEA over its reported plan to release the names of barangay officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

In a statement, the CHR stressed that public officials are expected to uphold ethical conduct, possess good moral character and are not supposed to be engaged in any illegal activities such as drug use and trade.

However, it said that the right to presumption of innocence and due process must not be compromised in dealing with public officials allegedly involved in illegal acts.

The CHR noted that these are constitutional guarantees that ensure the protection of human rights at all times.

“The commission agrees that there is a need to cleanse the local government from those who exacerbate the drug problem,” said the agency.

“We, however, urge the PDEA to be more discerning in releasing any information pertaining to the drug list. Rule of law dictates that filing a case in court is the proper way to apprehend and exact accountability from erring public officials,” it added.

The commission said making public accusations without due process subjects those concerned to undue shame, violates their right to fair trial, erodes their dignity and results in suffering of their families.

By following the legal process, the CHR said the government could demonstrate that it is firm in its policies and programs while ensuring that no undue harm is done and the rights and dignity of people are respected and protected.

Meanwhile, the Quezon City council has passed a resolution urging candidates for the upcoming barangay and SK elections to undergo voluntary drug testing.

Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, presiding officer of the city council, said the measure is in support of the city government’s efforts to ensure that elected officials or candidates aspiring for positions in the barangays remain drug-free.

She added that subjecting themselves to drug testing would also show honesty and sincerity on the part of the candidates.

Introduced by District Three councilor Gian Carlo Sotto, the resolution stressed that it is the state’s policy “to safeguard the integrity of its territory and the well-being of its citizenry from the ill-effects of dangerous drugs.” – With Janvic Mateo, Delon Porcalla, Emmanuel Tupas, Sheila Crisostomo

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