MANILA, Philippines – Even if the constituents of barangay officials supposedly linked to drugs trust them enough to reelect them, that won't be enough to clear their name.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde announced this on Tuesday, May 15, after reports emerged that alleged narco-politicians ran in the barangay polls.
"The next step we do is... conduct [a] case buildup kung talagang (if) evidence warrants. We can apply search warrants against them...'Di porke nanalo na sila ay excused na sila sa ilegal na droga (Just because they won in the elections doesn't mean they're excused from involvement in illegal drugs)," Albayalde said in an election security briefing at Camp Crame.
The drug-linked officials Albayalde was referring to were the barangay leaders recently identified by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in its infamous drug list, which contained 207 names.
Prior to Albayalde's warning, the PNP had announced a week before election day that it would conduct Oplan Tokhang visits for the listed barangay officials, going straight to their homes to plead with them to surrender.
The list has been criticized by rights advocates and security experts as a possible breach of human rights and a peril to case buildups. – Rappler.com
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.