By Ellson Quismorio
Surigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Barbers confirmed Monday that narco-politicians at the barangay level won in the village polls earlier this year.
“Meron akong alam na nasa listahan na hindi nanalo, pero mayroon din akong alam na nasa listahan na nanalo,” Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, told reporters during the weekly Ugnayan forum.
(I know someone on the list who didn’t win, but I know someone listed who won.)
By “list”, Barbers was referring to the list of barangay officials all over the country with alleged links to illegal drugs.
“I’m sorry but I cannot divulge to you the names. Pero mayroon talagang nanalo (But some really won),” he said. The last synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections took place last May 14, but only after a series of high-profile deferments to the democratic exercise.
The village and youth polls were originally scheduled on October 2016, or just a few months after the national elections.
President Rodrigo Duterte has twice called for the postponement of the Barangay elections on the allegation that 40 percent of villages officials in the country were involved with illegal drugs trade. There are over 42,000 barangays in the Philippines.
Barbers presumably gained access to this narco-list in his capacity as Dangerous Drugs panel chairman, which allowed him to closely work with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement authorities.
“Nung nagtanong-tanong ako, isa sa mga rason kung bakit nanalo ay dahil daw umaapaw ang kanilang resources ( When I asked around, they said one of the reason why they won was due to their overflowing resources),” the Mindanao lawmaker said.
“Eh kaya nga yun ang nakakatakot (That’s what’s scary). We’re talking only if Barangay captains. What if we’re talking about a governor? Or much worse, a congressman or a senator?” he asked.
The House of Representatives even tried last March to postpone the polls for a third time, but the Senate did not act on their measure.
His revelation notwithstanding, Barbers insisted that the Duterte administration’s signature anti-illegal drug campaign was still a success.
“Sa aking pananaw, sa aking opinyon (In my view, in my opinion), the war against drugs has been gaining ground. Paano? (How?) Number one, na-dismantle na yung mga malalaking laboratoryo ng shabu (the large shabu laboratories have been dismantled).
“Number two, several drug personalities have been neutralized like Espinosa, Parojinog, Jaguar, and others. Na-neutralize na yun although marami pa din dyan nakakalat mga unknown. Yung iba talagang nagtatago sa mga di natin masabi kung opisyal.”
(They’ve been neutralized although they are many scattered unknown personalities. Others are being coddled by supposed officials.)
Barbers cited as third reason the shipments of shabu that have been intercepted by authorities after slipping past the controversial Bureau of Customs