MANILA — Department of Interior and Local Government is investigating at least 50 “narco” politicians who were previously named by President Rodrigo Duterte as being involved in the illegal drug trade.
“We have come up with our investigating team, the Task Force Agila (TFA) has conducted discreet investigations on various so-called “narco” politicians and in fact, we are already in the process of building up cases against more or less 50 local government officials named and actually, most of them are mayors,” said TFA chairman and DILG Undersecretary John Castriciones in a media briefing, Thursday.
The DILG official also bared that TFA teams were gathering evidence against what they call “Persons of Interest” or POIs from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Castriciones admitted that there were dangerous complications involved in their probes such as in dealing with POIs who maintain private armed groups (PAG).
He said some mayors had refused to be investigated on the ground that they were already being subjected to a probe by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and PNP regional offices.
He added that there were reports that some local executives named by the president were being protected by notorious armed groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF).
“Some POIs are simply uncooperative. So, while we can conduct the investigations on our own, we are faced with these challenges, things that the Task Force can hurdle in pursuit of our mandate,” he said.
On the light of the matter, Castriciones ensures that they are doing the strict directives of president and Sec. Sueno though there are sensitivity in the nature of their jobs.
“The instructions to use by Sec. Sueno is very specific. That we strictly observe due process and the rule of law in conducting our investigations. We do our job without prejudice to the safety and security of the members of our investigating teams.” Castriciones said.
The Task Force Agila is a composite group of top officials from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Police Commission (Napolcom) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) mandated to investigate local government executives over whom the DILG has supervisory powers. Aira May Dizon/PNA-northboundasia.com