IF POLITICIANS have been involved in the illegal drug trade for some time already, why release their names only now?
The question was raised by Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Office (CPADAO) Chief Carmen Remedios Durano-Meca after Malacañang on Tuesday, March 5, announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the release of the narco-list.
"If they have the names already long before nidagan, which has been validated, election period should not have been waited," Meca said in an interview Wednesday, March 6.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said revealing the names of alleged narco- politicians would prevent voters from choosing May 13 election candidates who are proven to be "destroyers of society" because of their involvement in illegal drugs.
The number of narco-politicians was narrowed down to 82 from 83 following the removal of a mayor who was arrested for murder and illegal possession of firearms.
Of the 82 politicians involved in the illegal drug trade, 64 are re-electionists.
Panelo said Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año made a commitment to file administrative and criminal charges against the narco-politicians.
But for Meca, if those involved in the illegal drug trade have been apprehended earlier, that would have already been a clear warning for voters not to elect narco-politicians.
"If this so-called narco-list has been really validated and these politicians are really involved, this should have been acted prior (to the elections). Mura man gud sya og ma-politicize. Why do we have to wait for voters to vote if na-operatan na ni siya before, di na unta mabotaran kay nahibawan na," she added.
Meca lamented that politicians should not be singled out as there are also officials from other government agencies that has been tagged in the illegal drug trade.
"I'm not talking about unfair in the sense nga ipangsulti ang names. But it is unfair for the fact nga murag gi-single out lang ang politicians. How about those that are in other agencies that are involved na high ranking officials?" Meca said.
In October 2018, Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde ordered the relief of the officers linked by President Duterte to the rampant illegal drugs activities in the country.
In a related development, Meca stressed that none of the four Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials that tested positive for illegal drugs came from the 245 drug cleared barangays in the province.
The separate initial screenings conducted by the CPADAO from February to March 4, revealed an SK chairperson from Danao City and another SK chairperson from the southern town of Oslob yielded positive results.
An SK councilor and two barangay tanods from Danao City, an SK councilor from Carmen town and two job-order municipal employees from Sogod also tested positive for illegal drug use.
"Fortunately, those four SK officials that turned out positive wherein some of them really admitted to using illegal drugs, none of them were part of the drug cleared barangays," Meca said.
Some 245 out of 1,066 barangays in the province were declared as drug free last year.
But 45 or nearly 25 percent of these drug cleared barangay risk losing their status for failing to sustain their parameters.
SunStar Cebu tried to reach for comment Cebu Province SK Federation President Jerico Rubio, but he was not available as of press time. / RTF