By Ellson Quismorio
A House leader believes that the release of the “narco-list” won’t have a huge impact on the May 13 polls, if only because voters already know who the “bad eggs” are among the candidates.
“In general, voters know about the shenanigans of their officials,” claimed Camiguin lone district Rep. Xavier Jesus “XJ” Romualdo, chairman of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.
“People know who the drug lords and coddlers and protectors are in their localities so I don’t think releasing the narco list will have any meaningful effect on the election or reelection of narco-politicians,” said the lawyer-solon.
According to Romualdo, the only way to stop the illegal acts of narco-politicians “is to have them convicted, imprisoned, dismissed and barred from public office through the appropriate proceedings.”
On Thursday night in Davao City, President Rodrigo Duterte read out the names of 46 politicians whom he claimed had connections to the illegal drug trade. The list, which was collated by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), was described by Duterte as “somewhat validated.”
The Chief Executive also said that cases have been filed against the alleged narco-politicians before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Three congressmen were named by Duterte–Leyte 3rd district Rep. Vicente Veloso, Zambales 1st district Rep. Jeffrey Khonghun, and Pangasinan 1st district Rep. Jesus Celeste. Of the trio, only Celeste is not running for reelection in the chamber.
Meanwhile, two House members in Quezon City 2nd district Rep. Winston Castelo and Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel aired their reservations on the release of the narco-list.
“If the PNP (Philippine National Police) or PDEA has the goods against these people they should file appropriate charges in court instead. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” said Castelo, chairman of the Committee on Metro Manila Development.
“I am against this move because it violates the right of a person to due process. This is very unfair to the person concerned. The proper procedure is for the authorities to file a case if they have evidence,” said Pimentel.