Palace calls drug list a masterstroke, denies errors
DAVAO CITY―Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the Duterte administration did not err in naming persons of interest allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade as the list went through a very rigorous process.
Andanar, who was in Cagayan de Oro City on Monday, said the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) submitted to the President the list, which the agencies properly vetted to ensure that what the Chief Executive receives is “topnotch” information.
“The PNP and PDEA have their own vetting process in writing down or including personalities in the drug watch list,” Andanar told reporters during a meet-and-greet with the local media at a hotel here on Monday.
Andanar said if someone was listed as a drug pusher, the PDEA would have to check and coordinate with different agencies, and conduct an investigation before that person lands on the list.
“It’s not easy to be included in the list (of) drug watch personalities, in the same way that it is hard for a person to be taken out of that list,” he said.
In removing a person from the list due to death, for instance, the family of that person must go to PDEA or PNP and present that person’s death certificate as proof, according to Andanar.
Names not taken out
The reason some of those who are on the list even though they are dead or no longer in public service is that the family has not bothered to go to the law enforcement agencies to have the names taken out, he said.
The move of the President to go public with the names on the list using the executive power of immunity, he said, was “a masterstroke because now all these persons of interest”―alleged drug lords, coddlers and protectors―“will have to come out in the open, submit themselves for investigation with the PNP to clear their names and they will have to go through that process.”
“It has never been done in the history of this country and we have to give it to our President, who understands the power that he has to stop the drug proliferation that is destroying the lives of more than three million Filipinos,” he said.
Andanar said the list had long been in existence during the past administrations but was revealed only now because the antidrug campaign was one of Mr. Duterte’s priority programs.
A town mayor and a police officer, meanwhile, failed to show up in Camp Crame to meet with PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Monday because they were already dead.
Mayor Benhar Tulawie of Talipao, Sulu province, who was among those named by Mr. Duterte as involved in the illegal drugs trade on Sunday, died three years ago.
Supt. Junpikar Sittin, former police chief of Jolo town, said Tulawie died three years ago. Sittin said the mayor was 70 years old when he died.
PO3 Filomeno Toronio, one of the police officers named by Mr. Duterte as among those involved in the illegal drugs trade, died in 2013.
Senior Supt. Samuel Gadingan, provincial police chief, told the Inquirer that Toronio died from cardiac arrest while he was assigned to another police unit in Mati City in Davao Oriental province.
He said Toronio was relieved from Digos City Police Office during the time of former provincial director Senior Supt. Anselmo Pinili on 2006 for unknown reasons.
He died of cardiac arrest while he was assigned in Mati City, Gadingan said.
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