By Minde Nyl R. dela Cruz, Reporter
THE PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is set to file charges “in a week or two” against 207 barangay captains and councilors identified in a list released Monday as those involved in illegal drugs.
“PDEA will be filing cases against the personalities in the list. While we have at hand pieces of evidence against them, PDEA is continuously conducting case buildup for the case to be airtight,” PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said in a press briefing on Monday.
The list, bared before the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on May 14, consisted of 90 village chiefs and 117 barangay councilors.
A total of 70 names came from the Bicol Region, followed by the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) with 34 names, and Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with 13 names.
In the National Capital Region, there are 12 names in the narco-list but Mr. Aquino noted there are more in PDEA’s watch list.
Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chief Catalino S. Cuy said the list was released to guide voters.
“It is very important that the public, the voters, are aware doon sa mga kandidato na iboboto nila (of the candidates they are voting for). And may we call on our voters to be vigilant and choose properly ‘yung mga iboboto (who they will vote for),” Mr. Cuy said.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer-in-Charge Secretary Eduardo M. Año said the Commission on Elections will be furnished a copy of the list.
Mr. Aquino earlier said the narco-list was validated by PDEA, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).
“We ensure that the case is airtight and nandoon lahat ‘yung ebidensya (all the evidence are there). When you say validation, parang kino-confirm mo lang ‘yon (it is like you are simply confirming it). It’s a confirmation that, indeed, those barangay officials are involved in illegal drugs. But it doesn’t mean na andoon na lahat ang ebidensya (that we already have all the evidence),” Mr. Aquino said.
Mr. Aquino said PDEA will file the criminal charges and DILG, the administrative charges. DILG also filed cases against barangay officials who failed to activate efficient barangay anti-drug abuse councils (BADAC).
In line with this, Mr. Año urged the individuals included in the list to submit to authorities.
“If these barangay officials are willing to help the government fight drugs and they are (a) vital component of that drug operation, we encourage (them to surrender),” Mr. Año said.
The list was released a day after President Rodrigo R. Duterte said it is “not yet” the right time to do so. However, Mr. Aquino said the President ordered baring the list and the same was confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque Jr.
“That (release of the narco-list) was upon orders of the President. I have a partial list. The information is being released to help guide our voters to choose wisely,” Mr. Roque said, stressing that “no law [was] violated” in the process.
Mr. Aquino said PDEA is still verifying the names of 274 other barangay officers and is awaiting orders from Mr. Duterte to release the names of the 93 other higher ranking officials who are confirmed to be involved in illegal drugs.