President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, together with his long-time partner Honeylet Avanceña, attends the Sergio Mendes: A Valentine's Concert at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañaque City on February 14, 2019. Also in the photo is Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
Robinson Niñal Jr./Presidential Photo
Palace backs DILG proposal to release 'narco list' of politicians before 2019 polls
Alexis Romero ( - February 20, 2019 - 9:19pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang Wednesday expressed support for the Department of the Interior and Local Government's proposal to release the list of politicians who are into illegal drugs trade but called on authorities to ensure that the information to be disclosed are verified.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo noted that President Rodrigo Duterte had previously disclosed the names of some of the officials with alleged ties to narcotics syndicates.

"Hindi ba si presidente na noon ay naglabas na rin noon? So it goes without saying, kung si presidente mismo naglabas (Didn't the president release a list before? So it goes without saying if he himself released (the list)," Panelo said when asked if Malacañang was in favor of the Interior and Local Government department's proposal.

"If he released it before, why would he contradict it?" he added. 

When pressed whether the release of the list would violate the politicians' right to be presumed innocent, Panelo replied: "Presumption of innocence will apply on those who were charged." 

Panelo said candidates who were wrongly accused of protecting drug syndicates could always file charges against the authorities. He said candidates who lost because of allegations that they are into narcotics trade could run again in succeeding elections. 

"Eh di tumakbo ka ulit (You may run again). But you can sue for damages. You can sue," the presidential spokesman said. 

To avoid erroneous entries, Panelo said anti-drug operatives should make sure that all the information they would release are based on evidence. 

In 2016, Duterte apologized to former Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr., provincial administrator Rafael Baraan and board member Raul Sison, three of the local officials who were included in the narco list. The president had admitted that the administration was somehow negligent in counter-checking the reports. 

"Perhaps they've (anti-drug operatives) learned the lesson," Panelo said. 

"There should be sufficient evidence otherwise they (politicians wrongly accused of involvement in illegal drugs) would get back at you," he added.

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