POLICE REGIONAL OFFICE (PRO) 7 Director Debold Sinas supports the plan of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to submit a list of suspected narco-politicians to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The DILG said it will forward its list to the Comelec this week in the hope that candidates linked to the illegal drug trade can be disqualified from next year’s midterm elections
Sinas said they will ask for a copy of the DILG’s list so they can compare it with their own.
“Kon ato nang itago-tago nang listahan, dili mahibaw-an (The public won’t know who these people are if we keep the list hidden),” he said. “I think the DILG is the right office to announce this one.”
The PRO 7, Sinas said, will also monitor politicians with suspected links to drug syndicates.
Last May, the DILG released the names of barangay officials with suspected ties to the illegal drug trade during the barangay and youth councils elections.
The agency, however, has yet to receive clearance from the Office of the President to do the same for next year’s elections.
Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chairperson Catalino Cuy and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director Aaron Aquino also support the release of names of politicians on the list to the public.
“Just like what we did before the barangay election, maybe it would be advantageous and beneficial for the voters to know the background of the candidates in their areas, especially if the candidates are allegedly or reportedly involved in illegal drug activities,” Cuy said in Tagalog.
Like the DILG, PDEA is also waiting for presidential approval to publicize the list.
On April 30, before the barangay elections, the PDEA released the names of village officials who were on the President’s drugs watchlist.
Of the 207 names on the list, at least 90 were village chiefs, while the others were barangay councilors and watchmen.
Aquino said the number of narco-politicians went down to 85 from 93 after the killing of four and the arrest of four others who were on the list.
Included on the list were mayors, vice mayors, governors, vice governor and congressmen.
Aquino said for now, they are thoroughly adjudicating the names on the list through four validating agencies, including the Philippine National Police and PDEA.
Meanwhile, Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said the mere inclusion of a candidate’s name on the list is not a ground for automatic disqualification.
Castillano, a lawyer, said the procedure for barring a candidate from running for an elective post is for a registered voter to file a disqualification case against a politician who violates election laws.
The Comelec, he said, bases its rulings on elections rules.
It is not yet clear if the DILG can file a disqualification against a candidate on the list.
Castillano said the Comelec has no guidelines on how to deal with the list, adding that it has no mandate to release the names of suspected narco-politicians.
The Comelec, he said, can accept the list from the DILG, but the list can only serve as a reference.
In a related development, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Royina Garma has ordered the list of civilian intelligence volunteers to be reevaluated to prevent the volunteers from being used by politicians in the elections in May.
Members of the Barangay Information Network (BIN), Garma said, were trained only to give updates on their respective villages to the police.
She said BIN members are not allowed to carry firearms. They should also remain anonymous, as they are involved in covert gathering of information for the CCPO.
Garma said they will retain BIN members, who continue to tip police about criminal activities in their barangays. (with SunStar Philippines)