PNP wants due process for officials in PDEA drug list

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) supports the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in releasing part of the government's infamous drug list, but they expect their fellow law enforcers to follow due process.

This was announced by no less than PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde in a Camp Crame press briefing on Monday, May 7, after reporters asked for the PNP's official position.

Reporters raised the comment of Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, who described the PDEA's move as "dumb and cruel" for possibly compromising not just human rights, but also investigations initiated by cops.

"While we support the release of the drug watch list, we should also give at least due process sa mga tao na ito (for the people on it), and validation. I'm sure validation was made before the list was released," Albayalde said.

It's not surprising for Albayalde to vouch for the list's verification as most of the names it carries came from local police stations. The PNP is also one of 4 executive agencies which "validated" the list. (READ: League of Barangays tells PDEA to file cases if drug list 'verified')

The catch: PDEA chief Aaron Aquino admitted, however, that they have yet to gather enough evidence that would stand in court.

Aquino admitted in a television interview that they erroneously accused an official of involvement in drugs before. They remain prone to such mistakes, he said, and should they err with the latest list, they would apologize then retract their accusation.

One barangay official on the PDEA drug list, in fact, turned out to be already dead.

"If we did make a mistake, of course all of us are just human and we also commit mistakes, right? We will try to ask for an apology," Aquino said.

Despite the doubts, the PDEA chief stood by their intelligence gathering, vowing to file cases on officials as soon as they amass enough evidence. –

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.