PDEA drug list includes councilor shot dead in 2017

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After supposedly validating the barangay drug list it released on Monday, April 30, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) now faces its first mistake.

The PDEA included in its controversial list Lauro Vicencio, identified as a councilor in Barangay Pantay Matanda in Tanauan City, Batangas. The problem is Vicencio has been dead for over a year already.

According to Tanauan City police chief Superintendent Renato Mercado, Vicencio was gunned down in January 2017 by still unknown killers. (READ: PDEA, DILG insist: Barangay drug list not a hit list)

Mercado added that Vicencio is also not part of their local drug watchlist.

"Tinanong ko. Negative sa drugs sa amin. Wala siya (I asked. He's negative for drugs here. He is not [in the watch list])," the Tanauan City police chief told Rappler in a phone interview on Tuesday.

The PDEA has repeatedly said it thoroughly checked the drug list – not just by itself, but with 3 other executive agencies.

PDEA chief Director General Aaron Aquino was first to say that if they made a mistake in compiling the list, they would apologize then remove the name of the erroneously listed official.

Vicencio's widow, Gloria Vicencio, lamented that her late husband has been unfairly linked to drugs.

"Bakit siya ang nakalista? Hindi naman siya ano sa droga. Bakit ganoon? (Why is he listed? He wasn't involved in drugs. Why?)" Vicencio told ABS-CBN in an interview on Tuesday.

Addressing the error, the PDEA issued a statement late Tuesday night, saying, "If there are any inaccuracies as claimed we will look into it again, but we assure the public that the concerned agencies exercised due diligence in the validation process." – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.