List of local officials with alleged drug links 'up for Duterte approval'

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is asking President Rodrigo Duterte for permission to release a list of local government officials with alleged drug links ahead of the 2019 midterm elections.

Interior Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya made the statement at the Tapatan sa Aristocrat forum on Monday, February 18, when asked if the government should release a list of local government officials they believe to be involved in illegal drugs.

"In the case of the narco list for local government officials, we have requested the President to give us the go signal to release it. If the President will give us the go signal, ilalabas po namin ang listahan (we will release the list)," Malaya said.

"It may or may not help and we need to ask the President's approval," he added.

Malaya recalled the barangay elections in 2018, where the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) released a controversial list containing the names of over 200 barangay officials with alleged drug links.

At the time, the PDEA came under fire, as the evidence gathered against those on the list were not strong enough for "airtight" cases.

Malaya said there were mixed results in the barangay polls after the release of the list.

"During the last barangay elections, we were able to convince the President to release the narco list. Naging mixed 'yung result kasi may isang lugar sa NCR na notorious talaga na protector [sa] narco list...at natalo. In this instance, nakatulong 'yung narco list, but there are areas na nanalo," he said.

(During the last barangay elections, we were able to convince the President to release the narco list. Results were mixed because there was a place in NCR with a notorious protector on the narco list who lost. In this instance, the narco list helped, but there are areas [where officials on the list] won.)

Malaya added that there were fewer mayors who supported individuals believed to have links to illegal drugs. "Natakot na rin sila (They also became afraid)," he said.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said back in November 2018 that he wanted the PDEA to release another list of local officials with alleged drug links ahead of the 2019 elections.

The former military chief said he was confident that the new drug list would be well-vetted as names would be thoroughly checked by 4 government agencies. These include the PDEA, the Philippine National Police, the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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