Of 6 Manila barangay execs in 2018 'narco-list': None charged, 1 shot dead
The file photo shows PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año holding the barangay drug list last year.
Of 6 Manila barangay execs in 2018 'narco-list': None charged, 1 shot dead
(Philstar.com) - March 7, 2019 - 2:07pm

MANILA, Philippines — Of the six Manila barangay officials included in a “narco-list” released before village elections last year, none has been charged, Manila police said.

One, however, has since been killed by unidentified gunmen.

Four barangay chairpersons and two councilors in Manila were among the 207 candidates named in a government list of those allegedly linked to illegal drugs. The list was released two weeks ahead of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections last year.

“So far, no case [has been] filed against them,” Superintendent Carlo Magno Manuel, Manila Police District spokesperson, told Philstar.com when asked about the Manila officials named in the list.

It was reported during the runup to the May 2018 that there was a case buildup against erring barangay officials in Manila.

Manuel added that one of those on the list, Barangay 199 Chairman Marcelino Ortega of Tondo, was shot dead last month by two unidentified men on a motorcycle.

According to a report in The STAR, Ortega had actually been removed from the drug watchlist of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. He had also been reelected chairman of Barangay 199.

Last year, the PDEA released a list of 90 barangay captains and 117 barangay councilors that were allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.

While PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon could not confirm the latest figure of village officials charged since the list was released, he said: “I know for certain there were some.”

'Hit list'

The PDEA and the Department of the Interior and Local Government are expected to release another “narco-list” next week ahead of the campaign period for local bets.

Malacañang said the move is to guide voters in the midterm elections so they would not vote for those with alleged links to the illegal drug trade.

But several quarters have raised concerns on the move, calling it a potential hit list.

The Commission on Human Rights on Sunday stressed that the presumption of innocence is a right guaranteed under the Constitution.

“If there is enough evidence for the government to put names in a supposed narco-list, then the just way to proceed is to file charges against these personalities to make them accountable before our laws,” De Guia said.

The CHR spokesperson added: “The last thing that we want to happen is to heighten violence because of the release of such list in an, oftentimes, already violent period triggered by the election season.”

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon earlier said it would be better for government to just file cases against candidates that agencies say are involved in the illegal drug trade even if they have not been officially charged.

Some names on earlier lists—which included alleged drug-linked police, local officials and judges—have ended up shot or killed in police operations or by unknown gunmen. 

In 2016, for example, former Albuera, Leyte, Mayor Rolando Espinosa was killed while in government custody for allegedly resisting a search of his cell at a Leyte jail. 

Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot, who was called a "narco general" in 2016 was ambushed in 2018 but survived the shooting. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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