DILG to revive probe of local officials with drug links

Rambo Talabong
DILG to revive probe of local officials with drug links
The department plans to pick up where Task Force Agila left last March. It may need to investigate local officials also on issues of criminality and corruption.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) vowed to pursue the local officials who are involved in illegal drug trade – months after the task force doing the investigation was dissolved, and while the President continued brandishing a thick list of suspects he never divulged. 

“We will now be pursuing local government officials vis-a-vis our anti-illegal drugs campaign,” said DILG Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III in a press conference on Monday, May 15. 

Densing recently represented the DILG in the Philippine delegation that defended the human rights record of the country to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

In order to further the administration’s war against illegal drugs, Densing said the DILG looks into continuing the investigations began by Task Force Agila, the legal investigative unit established in August 2016 to investigate “all past and incumbent local public officials with alleged links to illegal drugs.”

The task force was dissolved 7 months after, in March 2017, because its functions supposedly overlapped with those of the Inter-Agency Committee On Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) and the National Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force (NAIDTF) which were created by President Rodrigo Duterte through Executive Order Number 15.

Through ICAD, various departments were mandated to “cleanse the bureacracy” of personnel involved in illegal drugs activities.

However, the order did not specify a replacement to the investigative function of Task Force Agila halting the investigations despite President Duterte continuously implicating local officials as linked to the illegal drug trade. (Read: Duterte has long list of officials linked to drugs)

“We may want to get whatever results of the investigations made to those local officials,” Densing said.

Densing said they may need to investigate the local officials “not only [on] issues of illegal drugs, not only issues of criminality, but even corruption.”

“We will be aggressive in our anti-corruption efforts with the local government units,” he said.

According to Densing, DILG Officer-in-Charge Catalino Cuy has issued a memorandum circular, detailing their plans. The records office of the DILG said it has yet to receive the memo. – Rappler.com


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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.