PDEA review seeks to determine still active ‘narcopoliticians’
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Shortly after President Duterte warned of a “chilling” drug campaign in his State of the Nation Address on July 23, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) began reviewing a list containing the names of 96 elected officials tagged as drug suspects.
So far, the cases of nine officials on the list had been reviewed, said PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino, who attended a Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) summit here on Thursday.
“The purpose of our revalidation is to determine if ‘narcopoliticians’ are still active or not as protectors, traders and users,” he said.
Review workshops are supervised by a national committee consisting of the PDEA, the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.
Aquino said he was not a member of the committee, which will try to finish the review before the end of the year.
The committee was using a validated “narcolist” that was different from a watch list, which names suspected drug lords, protectors, traders, pushers and users but which is not yet vetted.
The list has been consolidated into a national watch list on illegal drugs, he said.
Only the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has not submitted its watch list.
Addressing the summit, Aquino said the 3,600 SK leaders in 505 villages in Pampanga province should organize fewer basketball tournaments and beauty pageants, and focus more on drug prevention.
“Instead, please level up your drug prevention and education advocacy and align this with the flagship program of President Duterte to make our country drug-free,” Aquino said.
“Please help convince drug dependents to reform,” he said.
Aquino said he sought SK participation in the campaign because 16,000 more villages throughout the country needed to be cleared of drugs.
To date, 857 villages are free from drugs.
The SK chair is a member of the barangay antidrug abuse council. The SK gets a 10-percent budget from the share of the Internal Revenue Allotment of a barangay and antidrug efforts are one of five items that can be funded from that budget.
Gov. Lilia Pineda said she would ask Vice Gov. Dennis Pineda, her son, and the provincial board to allow the use of portions of the youth and gender development funds to support the antidrug campaign.
Aquino told SK leaders that the country’s drug problem had turned worst because even children as young as 4 have become pushers of “shabu” (crystal meth).
Pineda said the SK budget of P25 billion to P30 billion can “benefit the future generations if we try to be responsible in ridding our communities of drugs.” — TONETTE OREJAS
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