Ping: Execs on ‘narcolist’ may sue PDEA
Barangay officials on the so-called narcolist of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) could sue the agency for libel, according to Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who continued to denigrate the release of the names on Thursday.
The release of the list was both “dumb and cruel,” Lacson said.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino made public on Monday the names of 90 barangay captains and 117 barangay councilors who were allegedly “involved in illegal drug activities.”
The PDEA move has prompted at least two people on the list to lie low.
A village official in Iligan City has decided to withdraw his reelection bid, while a municipal councilor, a former village chief in Cebu province, has refused to go out of his house since Monday.
Al Daud Cali, a councilor at Barangay Upper Hinaplanon in Iligan, said on Thursday that he would no longer run in this month’s elections.
“I hope this will put the issue, which has no basis, to rest,” Cali said.
Councilor Bibiano Cabaron of Barangay Palanas, Ronda town, Cebu province, said he was “ashamed and at the same time afraid.”
Lacson said the affected officials could seek legal redress.
At the Kapihan sa Senado forum, Lacson said PDEA could say “what we released was true … But if you destroy the reputation of a person through an act that is not legal, you could be charged with libel.”
Lacson also said PDEA officials may just be following orders from President Duterte, but they could not use this as an excuse because they were still the ones who made the names public.
Officials earlier justified the release of the list by saying it was intended to educate voters about the candidates and convince them not to vote for those with links to the illegal drug trade.
But it may not necessarily work that way, according to Lacson.
If voters think the list was being used for political purposes, they would still vote for their preferred candidates, he said. “It’s possible that in their judgment, what the PDEA released was not true,” he added.
Lacson considered PDEA’s move dumb because in releasing the list, an intelligence report, the authorities just forewarned the drug traders that the government knew them.
The release of the list is also cruel because authorities could not say that the intelligence report has been validated, he said.
Wrong first name
In Baguio City, the only candidate linked by PDEA to drugs said his “name is Jomarc Pabunan, not Jumar.”
Pabunan, a village councilor at Barangay Lower Magsaysay, is seeking reelection.
The second Baguio official named by PDEA, Councilor Dick Bravo of Barangay Lopez Jaena, is not seeking reelection.
Pabunan said he shouldn’t be on the list because he proved in 2016 that he had no drug connections.
He said the PDEA list should be corrected.
Senior Supt. Ramil Saculles, Baguio police director, said Pabunan and Bravo “have not figured in [the Baguio City Police Office] list of drug [suspects] again since they surrendered in 2016.”
In Pangasinan province, about 98 percent of 44,346 candidates in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections tested negative for drugs, according to the province’s top election official.
But Marino Salas, provincial election supervisor, could not say if 209 Pangasinan candidates linked to drugs by the police were among those who took the drug test.
In Iligan, Cali said his being included on the drug list was surprising because he had never been into drugs.
He admitted, though, that an older brother had been a drug user. He said his brother was shot dead while sleeping inside their house.
Another village official in Iligan on the list had decided not to run again even before the list was released. Gayson Joe Matildo, a barangay councilor at Santo Rosario, said he wanted to stay away from politics.
Family badly affected
He maintained that he only used drugs when he was still a teenager.
Matildo said his family was badly affected when PDEA made public the list containing his name. His mother, he said, landed in a hospital.
He said he was trying to clear his name now.
In Eastern Visayas, the police cleared four local officials who were on the PDEA list.
They were identified as Domar Jabolin of Barangay 3 Poblacion, and Julie Rebato of Barangay 2 Poblacion in San Jose de Buan, Samar; and Ricky Ansale, Barangay Matango, Almeria town, Biliran; and Vladimir Adlawon, barangay chair of Kalanggaman, Bato town, Leyte. — WITH REPORTS FROM GABRIEL CARDINOZA, KIMBERLIE QUITASOL, DIVINA SUSON, JESSA MAE SOTTO, ROSALIE O. ABATAYO AND JOEY A. GABIETA
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