MANILA, Philippines – With President Rodrigo Duterte's nod, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will release a list of local officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs ahead of the 2019 elections – but only after they have verified it.
"We will have a meeting with Secretary Cuy (Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Catalino Cuy), and we will talk about the President's order to release the narco-list. So, we will make sure that when it is released, it is vetted, validated, so it is fair to those involved," Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.
Speaking to reporters in a chance interview on Thursday, February 28, Año said the meeting will also be attended by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Director General Aaron Aquino, who is currently overseas for a conference. Once he returns, they will discuss specific steps to take before the list's release.
Aquino's attendance is important because his agency keeps the list and it also leads other law enforcement agencies, like the police, in terms of verification. (READ: PDEA: Drug-linked governors, congressmen, mayors to be named next)
"Tuloy-tuloy ang kanilang validation procedures. As of last week, nagva-validate pa rin sila (Their validation procedures are continuous. As of last week, they were still validating)," Año said.
Last year, the DILG and the PDEA drew flak after releasing the drug list containing barangay officials' names weeks before the barangay elections. They were slammed for releasing information that still couldn't stand in court, and could even preempt their future operations.
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.