ELECTION hopefuls in the 2019 midterm elections who have been linked to illegal drugs cannot be disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) merely because of "suspicion," Malacañang said on Friday, October 12.
"As a lawyer now, I'm talking as a lawyer, you cannot just disqualify on the basis of suspicion. Baka magkaroon kayo ng problema doon (It might cause a problem)," Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and newly-designated Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told Palace reporters in an interview.
Local Government spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) would submit a copy of the government's so-called "narco-list" to the Comelec.
He said furnishing a copy of the drug watchlist to the Comelec would allow the poll body to consider the possible disqualification of those who are included in the roster and are planning to run for 2019 polls.
"And we are also going to forward to the Commission on Elections all of those lists na (of) narco-politicians and those with cases to the Commission on Elections for their proper disposition," Malaya said in a separate press conference with Palace reporters.
"We would like the public to be informed of the list. We would like to know that these are those with pending cases. Now, if they are to be disqualified or not, that's no longer the call of the department. It's now the call of the Commission on Elections," he added.
As of April 2018, there were 93 politicians linked to illegal drugs, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in July.
Duterte, in an interview in Davao City early Friday morning, said he has no plans of divulging the names of personalities included in the narco-list.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez on October 10 said it was "too premature" to prevent candidates linked to illegal drugs from joining the 2019 polls.
Panelo said the final decision concerning the drug personalities seeking elective posts next year would come from the poll body.
"Well, that's the call of the Commission on Elections. If it feels that it can disqualify," he said.
"He (Jimenez) was saying that they have the authority to disqualify daw although [that's] more on, sinasabi niya na 'pag walang capability to pursue a national campaign, hindi doon sa whether drugs or not (lack of capability to pursue a national campaign rather than the supposed involvement in drugs)," he added. (SunStar Philippines)