Mayors on narc list seek reelection
Several mayors whose names appeared on the government’s list of suspected narcopoliticians are seeking reelection, some of them joining the administration Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and its allies.
In Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) region, at least 10 mayors, who were either publicly named by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 as involved in the illegal drug trade or identified in the 2017 National Police Commission resolutions stripping them of control over the local police, are running in next year’s elections.
One of the mayors linked to the drug trade, Antonio Halili of Tanauan City, Batangas province, was assassinated in July.
Halili, who was among those stripped of power over the local police, had repeatedly denied his link to illegal drugs and was seeking to clear his name before he was shot and killed by a sniper while attending a flag-raising ceremony at the City Hall grounds.
Three mayors in the region linked to the drug trade, however, had dropped out of politics.
A check at the local offices of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed that Mayors Juan Toreja of Ibaan, Batangas province; Cecilio Hernandez of Rodriguez, Rizal province; and Bruno Ramos of Bay, Laguna province, did not file their certificates of candidacy for any position in the 2019 elections.
The mayors, in media statements, have repeatedly denied their involvement in illegal drugs.
The President has made the war on illegal drugs his administration’s priority.
A report from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency showed that as of Aug. 31 this year, 4,854 “drug personalities” died in antidrug operations conducted by the government since July 1, 2016, when the President assumed office.
The report did not include thousands who were killed by unidentified suspects or vigilante groups.
A 2017 year-end report on the President’s key accomplishments showed that 16,355 people were killed in the drug war, classified as “homicide cases under investigation.”
The casualty figure covered the period July 1, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2017.
In Batangas, Lemery Mayor Eulalio Alilio, who was named on the government drug watch list, is seeking reelection under the Nacionalista Party (NP).
In Bauan town, former Mayor Ryan Dolor is seeking a comeback after his father, incumbent Mayor Herminigildo Dolor, died in June this year due to illness. The former mayor, in 2016, went to the Philippine National Police headquarters to clear his name.
In Laguna, Los Baños Mayor Caesar Perez and San Pablo City Mayor Loreto Amante are both gunning for another term under NP.
In Rizal, Teresa Mayor Raul Palino, a former Liberal Party member, is seeking reelection under PDP-Laban.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier recommended the disqualification of candidates included in the drug watch list.
But a Comelec official in Batangas said the poll body would still have to study the DILG’s recommendation.
“[But] there’s no conviction, no cases filed [in the first place]. We can’t disqualify [a candidate] unless there’s a law [allowing us to do so],” Albert Zara, election officer of Lemery town in Batangas, said in a phone interview last week.
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