Addressing the National Peace and Order Council (NPOC) in Davao City on Thursday night, Duterte said the release of the narco list that includes 43 local government officials and three congressmen is justified with the filing of formal charges before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Narco list: More to come
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - March 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has directed the Anti-Money Laundering Council and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission to conduct further investigation on the 46 politicians in his narco list to build airtight cases against them.

Addressing the National Peace and Order Council (NPOC) in Davao City on Thursday night, Duterte said the release of the narco list that includes 43 local government officials and three congressmen is justified with the filing of formal charges before the Office of the Ombudsman.

He said it was just the start and more persons would be named after the reports about them have been validated.

“Remember that public office is a public trust. An official’s right to privacy is not absolute and there is a compelling reason to prioritize the interest of the state and the people,” Duterte said.

He dismissed complaints from some of those on the list that their inclusion was “unfair” and based on “unsubstantiated claims” that could have violated their right to presumption of innocence.

“As your President, my ultimate concern is the pursuit of order in government and the welfare of the Filipino people. My administration assures you of our dedication to change the lives of Filipinos now, not tomorrow,” the President said.

He maintained that the list has already been validated.

Duterte said there are many more government officials allegedly linked to the illegal drug trade.

The President said the narco list was only the start of what he plans to make public but that the remaining names would have to be divulged some other time or after these are properly validated. 

Duterte said he will make life hard for those in the illegal drugs trade, including politicians, in the remaining last three years of his term.

“Even if I have to burn in hell, I will really do it if you insist on destroying my country,” the President said.

Among those the President named were his political allies.

A number of the local politicians were also among those who welcomed Duterte in his recent provincial sorties.

But still the President proceeded with the filing of corresponding charges against them through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“My decision to unmask these drug personalities was anchored on my trust in the government agencies who have vetted and validated the narco list,” he said before naming the officials.

Duterte made special mention of names which he said had frequently cropped up in the past, like dismissed Iloilo City mayor Jed Mabilog and Mayor Vicente Loot of Daanbantayan, Cebu.

Duterte pointed out he is not interested if he bares the names before and after the May election.

“I have no intention to hurt anybody,” he said.

Raps filed

Meanwhile, the DILG on Thursday filed complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman against the 46 officials.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) provided the initial list, which the President read during the NPOC meeting in Davao City.

Año said it is possible that the alleged narco politicians named by President Duterte will lose their police powers.

The narco-list bared by President Duterte was a product of 14 months of work among different law enforcement agencies, the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said yesterday.

PDEA director general Aaron Aquino said that the initial narco-list has “undergone revalidation and verification process” by different agencies, including the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the DILG for over a year.

Aquino said monthly validation and workshops were held to vet out the initial narco list released that included three congressmen, one provincial board member, 35 mayors and seven vice-mayors.

DILG spokesman Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that Año is set to convene the National Police Commission to discuss the matter.

Malaya said they decided to file administrative charges before the release of the narco list, unlike what the administration did last year for the barangay drug list.

“We listened to our senators and various sectors who suggested to us that the filing of charges should be done first before PRRD releases the list to the public,” he said, referring to the President by his initials. 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday said that they would conduct an investigation on the government officials listed as narco politicians as soon as they receive a copy of the intelligence report from the DILG and PDEA. 

“As soon as the DOJ receives the intelligence reports from the DILG/PDEA or copies of the complaints filed with the Office of the Ombudsman, we shall commence with our own criminal investigation,” said Guevarra. 

He earlier said that he would instruct the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), an attached agency of the DOJ, to look into the reported involvement of the politicians in the illegal drug trade. 

The PNP said yesterday the evidence against the alleged narco politicians is not yet enough to file criminal charges against the suspects, who have been charged with administrative cases.

PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Bernard Banac said that testimonies and information on the alleged involvement of the politicians in illegal drugs are only enough to warrant probable cause for administrative cases. 

He said that case buildup, verification and validation of information are still ongoing to get more evidence that could be used for the filing of criminal charges. 

However, Malaya said that while the administration decided to file administration cases first, it does not mean the evidence is weak against the alleged narco politicians.

He noted that this was the decision of the Interagency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

“The basis is the evidence submitted to ICAD led by the PDEA. The decision was to file admin charges first and then to file criminal charges next. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the basis is weak,” he said in a text message. 

The PDP-Laban will purge from its roster members who are included in the narco list that President Duterte bared to the public on Thursday, reelectionist Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said yesterday.

Pimentel, president of the ruling party, said he will require all those on the list who turn out to be PDP-Laban members to explain why they have been linked in a verified list to illegal drugs.

“If we find their explanation to be unsatisfactory then we will expel them,” Pimentel told reporters. – With Evelyn Macairan, Romina Cabrera, Paolo Romero, Edith Regalado

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