2 solons oppose PDEA plan to expose ‘narco list’
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s (PDEA) plan to release the “narco list” bearing the names of more than 200 barangay officials allegedly involved in illegal drug trade is an “infraction of due process and clear violation of the Constitution,” opposition lawmakers warned on Wednesday.
Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin, in a statement, said PDEA should be discerning enough to know what an unlawful and lawful order is.
“It’s an infraction of due process and clear violation of the Constitution. It’s another one of those bullying tactics and to inject into the electoral agenda his failed war on drugs,” he added.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano echoed Villarin’s concerns, saying the “rule of law and due process must always prevail in these cases.”
If there is “substantial evidence” linking these officials to illegal drugs, Alejano said, they should be held criminally liable “by all means.”
“I emphasize ‘substantial evidence’ as a precursor because there were instances wherein the president released the narco-list, only to follow it up by retracting several names included in it,” he pointed out.
“These blunders certainly cast doubt on the accuracy of the said drug list,” he added.
Aside from mere “public-shaming,” Alejano also expressed hopes that the release of the list would hold erring public officials accountable.
“Sa pagkakataon na ito, sana ay magkaroon na ng legal accountability ang mga opisyal na mapapatunayang sangkot sa ilegal na droga,” he said.
(At this point in time, I hope the officials who will be proven involved in illegal drugs should be given accountability.)
PDEA chief Aaron Aquino earlier announced that President Rodrigo Duterte directed them to release within the week PDEA’s list of barangay officials involved in the illegal drug trade, a few weeks ahead of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on May 14.
In a press conference in Tacloban City last April 18, Aquino vowed to publish the names of the village officials involved in drug trafficking.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has also cautioned PDEA against its plan to publicly name barangay officials allegedly involved in the narcotics trade, saying it should instead let due process take its course.
“The Commission agrees that there is a need to cleanse the local government from those who exacerbate the drug problem. We, however, urge the PDEA to be more discerning in releasing any information pertaining to the drug list,” the CHR said in a statement last April 21.
“Rule of law dictates that filing a case in the court is the proper way to apprehend and exact accountability from erring public officials,” it added. /jpv
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