MANILA — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Tuesday revealed that 64 out of 82 politicians on the “narco-list” are seeking re-election in this year’s mid-term polls.
“I think it’s 64 (local officials). They filed their COCs (Certificate of Candidacy) and the remaining 18 decided not to file,” PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino told reporters after the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Aquino said they have yet to finish the revalidation of the list of politicians allegedly involved in illegal drug transactions.
“As of now, there is an instruction for PDEA to disclose the list, but I can’t do it right now because we haven’t finished our revalidation of all the narco politicians. Actually, they are now down to 82. Last time, I said it’s 83 but one of the mayors was arrested, Mayor Franco Salasal of Datu Salibo of Maguindanao,” he said.
However, Aquino noted that the number may go up after the validation process as there are more politicians in the national drug information system.
He said some of those on the list were drug lords while the others provide protection to the illegal drugs trade in their areas.
Aquino reiterated his stand of not being in favor of releasing the list, particularly prior to revalidation as it would be unfair for those on the list and may promote negative campaigning.
“First and foremost, we still remain on my stand. I don’t want the list to be revealed or to be disclosed. That has been my statement from the beginning. Even before the filing of the COCs, that is already my stand,” he explained.
Aquino, however, said he will comply if President Rodrigo Duterte orders him to publicize the list.
“If it will be ordered by the President that this list will be revealed, I should abide by that. I think the authority to disclose the list was not given to PDEA but instead to the SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año),” he said.
Aquino previously said he would prefer to file charges against politicians on the “narco-list” than publicizing it.
He said it would also be better if they obtain solid evidences against these politicians and directly file charges against them but he noted that building cases against these politicians is not that easy.
Aquino said the DILG is already preparing to file charges against some of those on the list.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier said while it supports the move to unmask politicians on the “narco-list”, it is the President who has the final decision on the matter.
PNP Chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde, said it is the right of the voters to know who among those running in the mid-term elections are involved in illegal drugs trade. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan /PNA-northboundasia.com