By Chito Chavez
With several politicians named in the narco-list complaining about their inclusion, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) vouched for the accuracy of the “shame roster”, claiming it went through vigorous, meticulous and sufficient verification and revalidation process for 14 months.
With several agencies participating in the evaluation process, PDEA said that case-built ups are still in progress of more politicians supposedly with illegal drug links.
“The (list of) 46 narco politicians, whose names were announced by President [Rodrigo] Duterte is a product of almost 14 months revalidation and workshop of Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as a resource [agency],” PDEA said in a statement.
“This is only the partial list of narco politicians. Others are still being revalidated while there are some who were transferred to the civilian list since they are no longer holding or running for public office,” the PDEA said.
Despite concerns from critics, Duterte announced on Thursday the names of 35 mayors, seven vice mayors, a provincial board member, and three members of the House of Representatives allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade,’’ the statement added.
With howls of protests from politicians included in the shame list, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya stressed that it was “the right of the politicians named in the narco-list to file charges against the agencies that validated and included them in the shame list’’.
Malaya said the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), of which the DILG is part, already expected that some of the concerned politicians may decide to refute or rebut the allegations in the Office of the Ombudsman.
On Thursday, the DILG on orders of President Duterte filed charges against 46 narco-politicians named publicly by the President.
Citing it as merely incidental, Malaya refuted claims that the release of the narco-list was merely intended to besmirch the reputation of the May 209 mid-term elections aspirants not aligned with the Duterte administration.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) are now also conducting their own investigation against the 46 narco politicians to support the primary agencies conducting the probe.
PDEA spokesman Derrick Arnold Carreon reiterated the government had a “greater responsibility to the state and the public because the interest of the majority is greater than that of the erring few.”
In the name of fairness, the politicians named by Duterte on the narco-list will be given the chance to “defend their rights, seek relief, or set forth their claims” after the DILG filed cases against them before the Office of the Ombudsman.
“Basically, their rights are still afforded them,” PDEA said.
Included in the list were three members of the House of Representatives, one Provincial Board Member, 35 Mayors, and 7 Vice-Mayors.
The narco-list has undergone revalidation and verification process through monthly workshops conducted by PNP, PDEA, NICA, AFP and DILG.