Albay governor asks mayors not to support candidates in PDEA narco list

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara told mayors in the province not to support the re-election of barangay officials whose names are on the narco-list publicized by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

PDEA chief Director General Aaron Aquino and Department of the Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año released in a press conference on Monday, April 30, a list of more than 200 barangay officials from all over the country whom they claim to be linked to illegal drugs.

Aside from "cleaning" the province of illegal drug, Bichara said this action will also show their province's support for President Rodrigo Duterte. 

With 10 days to go before the Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay elections, Bichara made his call to action here during the Provincial Peace in Order Council (PPOC) meeting held at the Provincial Disaster Management Council Office Thursday afternoon, May 3.

“We need to withdraw our support to barangay captains on narco list seeking for re-election to totally clean our country from drugs and so choose barangay officials who are not involved in drug trade. We are with the President’s side,”  Bichara said during the PPOC meeting.

The provincial council responded by passing a resolution not to support the candidacy of incumbent barangay officials on the narco list.

“Those candidates validated in narco list shouldn’t be supported this coming election,” the governor said.

Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro of Tabaco City asked for a thorough validation of the narco list because the PDEA data did not match with the Philippine National Police drug watch list. 

Luistro said barangay officials identified by PDEA are entitled to their right to due process. She said that in her city, there was one barangay captain in narco list of PDEA but not on the drug watch list of Philippine National Police.

The PDEA released the names of 207 barangay officials linked to the illegal drug trade ahead of the May 14 barangay polls wherein majority came from Bicol. In that list 117 are barangay kagawads while 90 are barangay chairmen. 

Police Superintendent Eymard Gomez, deputy intelligence officer of Philippine National Police regional command said: “We have 584 candidates in the drug watch list of PNP Bicol but this is not complete yet and we are still validating it. They’re under monitoring but could be arrested anytime if found to be using and involved again in the drug trade.” 

But Mayor Cherry May Sampal of Polangui town said that there were candidates in the drug watch list who voluntarily submitted and surrendered to the PNP in the Oplan Tokhang to prove that they were not using illegal drugs.

Mayor Alice Morales of Malinao town also doubted the PDEA list. “It’s unfair for people or barangay officials who were included in the narco list,” Morales said.

On the other hand, Mayor Das Manorilla of Libon town said that were currently there were neophyte candidates involved in drug trade running but not on narco list. – Rappler.com