PDEA reveals names of 207 village officials included in narco-list
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) bared on Monday the list of 207 village officials who were allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
In a press conference in Quezon City, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said of those included in the "narco-list," 90 were barangay captains and 117 were barangay councilors.
Region 5 or Bicol has the most number of village officials, with a total of 70, who were allegedly "protectors" of drug syndicates; followed by Cordillera Autonomous Region with 34; and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with 13.
"The disclosure of the names of barangay officials involved in the illegal drug business is first and foremost a direct order from President Rodrigo Duterte," Aquino said.
He said the list has been validated by four law enforcement intelligence agencies, such as PDEA, Philippine National Police, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.
Asked when the charges would be filed, Aquino said, "It will be in due time. We're just having a continuous case build up. Maybe in a week or two, we can already start the filing of charges."
PDEA Public Information Office Chief Derrick Carreon said the charges that will be filed against the barangay officials include “dereliction of duty at the office of the Ombudsman and then violation of RA 9165 anti-drug law.”
PDEA has a greater responsibility to the state and the public because the interest of the majority is greater than that of the erring few,” Aquino added
He said 274 more barangay officials are being validated and once it is completed, PDEA would also reveal their names.
On criticisms that disclosure of the names of those in the narco-list was in violation of due process, Aquino noted that the Supreme Court provided a strong ruling on the superiority of public's right to information as against an individual's right to privacy.
"In several decisions on cases, the Supreme Court affirmed that the right to privacy is not absolute when there is compelling reason to prioritize the interest of the state," he said.
He added that public officials have "limited right to privacy" as compared to ordinary individuals.
Aquino downplayed the possibility that disclosure of names of those in the narco-list could lead to more cases of extrajudicial killings.
"No EJKs. This will not serve as a hit list," he said. However, he added elected government officials are aware of the risks that they have to face, including the need to help in fighting illegal drugs.
Aquino said he is also ready to face possible charges after divulging the names of those included in the narco-list.
Once given the go signal, he said his office is ready to divulge names of the 93 other high-ranking government officials from vice mayor up whom they have validated to have been allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer-in-charge Eduardo Ano led the filing of administrative charges against officials of 16 villages in the National Capital Region and Bicol Region for failure to organize their Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADACs).
Of the 16 barangays, five are in NCR, all in the City of Manila, while 11 are in Bicol, specifically 10 in town of Aroroy in Masbate and one in Gubat, Sorsogon.
He warned filing of cases against barangay officials of the 16 villages with unorganized BADACs is just the first in a series of cases to be filed by the DILG.
“This is only the first batch because we are still in the process of culling all the reports from our regional and field offices and there are still over 600 barangays with no reports on their BADACs," Ano said in the joint press conference in PDEA headquarters in Quezon City.
He said the filing of administrative cases at the Ombudsman against the erring barangays officials of the 16 barangays for misconduct of office or dereliction of duty is pursuant to Section 60 of the Local Government Code of 1991.
Ano expressed hope that with disclosure of the names included in the narco-list, voters in the coming May 14 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections could be guided accordingly. Celerina Monte-Robina Asido/DMS