25 local official in narco list win in polls
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general Aaron Aquino confirmed that 25 of the 46 politicians on the narco list won in the recently concluded midterm polls.
Boy Santos
25 local official in narco list win in polls
Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) - May 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Despite their inclusion in President Duterte’s narco list, 25 local officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade won in last Monday’s elections.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general Aaron Aquino confirmed that 25 of the 46 politicians on the narco list won in the recently concluded midterm polls.

Aquino said a majority of the local officials in the narco list who won are mayors, while 11 officials lost in the polls and another 10 did not run for office. 

One of them was elected mayor of Rodriguez, Rizal. Tom Hernandez got 40,527 votes and won by 2,003 votes over his rival, independent candidate Romy Grecia.

Hernandez and his father, incumbent Rodriguez Mayor Cecillo Hernandez, were among the politicians named by Duterte as involved in the illegal drug trade.

Another is Roberto Luna Jr. of Lingig, Surigao del Sur, who was reelected as mayor.

A total of 46 local executives, lawmakers and a former mayor were in the narco list disclosed by Duterte last March. 

Despite more than half of the officials named in the narco list again winning office, Aquino said he is not disappointed with the results. 

“If it were made public most likely, who knows, there are 46 (local officials) of them. Not everyone of them won. Somehow, there was an effect that half of the 46 did not win,” he said.

Aquino said he is trying to understand why some Filipinos still voted for these suspected narco politicians.

Malacañang noted the President’s release of the narco list did not stop some politicians tagged in illegal drugs trade from winning in the local polls. 

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said some people who received assistance from politicians in the narco list may have voted “out of necessity.”

“The dynamics of local (politics) is different. They know their candidates... Voters are pragmatic. If the officials help them whenever their children are brought to the hospital, even if they are in the drug list, people would still vote for them,” Panelo said at a press briefing yesterday. 

“The dynamics is different, more on necessity... The President has already warned, he said ‘it’s now up to you. I already warned you’,” he added. 

Asked whether he thought the warning of the President was not effective, Panelo replied: “To others, it’s effective. While others believe in the President, they need the assistance given by the people they elected.” 

Pressed if the government would file charges against people in the narco list, Panelo said it will depend on the evidence presented.

“It will always depend on the evidence,” he said.

Drug-funded campaign kitty

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is not discounting the possibility that money sourced from illegal drugs was used by politicians in buying votes in the midterm polls.

PNP spokesman Col. Bernard Banac said politicians with suspected links to the illegal drug trade may have found ways to use their money despite the government’s intensified campaign against narcotics.

Banac added the PNP is still collating how many politicians included in narco list won the elections.

“Our validation is ongoing. We are also waiting for the list of winners,” he said.

PDEA’s Aquino agreed that somehow, drug money could have been used in getting the narco-listed politicians reelected. 

Aquino said they will continue to keep track of the reelected narco politicians.

“We will still monitor their actions. Monitor if they are still involved actively in illegal drugs. Case buildup. More on protection. They are protectors (of drug syndicates),” he added. 

An administration lawmaker proposed reactivating the barangay anti-drug abuse councils to help the PNP and the PDEA in the campaign against illegal drugs in local government units.

“The best way to eliminate the drug scourge at the grassroots level is for our barangay officials to heighten their vigilance and make their anti-drug abuse councils do the job they are tasked to do,” Rep. LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur said. –Alexis Romero, Emmanuel Tupas, Non Alquitran, Delon Porcalla

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