Disclosure of ‘narco-list tantamount to partisan politics

By: Jessa Mae Sotto and Morexette Marie B. Erram April 27,2018 - 10:38 PM

THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) believes that publicizing the names of incumbent barangay officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs is one way to empower voters to choose their candidates wisely for the upcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

But the Commission on Elections (Comelec) warned PDEA that this could be tantamount to partisan politics as it promotes the defeat or victory of candidates.

“It may amount to partisan political activity because it is defined as anything done or said, directly or indirectly, to promote defeat or victory of a candidate,” said Comelec – Cebu Provincial Election Officer Ferdinand Gujilde.

Comelec – Cebu Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano, on the other hand, said barangay officials accused of links to the illegal drug trade can file a case against the PDEA.

“If somebody is aggrieved they could always go to court,” Castillano said.

Aside from the Comelec, several human rights bodies also warned PDEA to be extremely careful in publicizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s new batch of so-called naro-politicians, which includes 289 barangay captains and kagawads (councilors).

In a statement sent to members of the media, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned PDEA that pushing through with their announcement without any supporting evidence will only ‘worsen the bloodshed’ brought on by the war on drugs.

Quoting Carlos Conde, HRW-Asia Division researcher, the statement said publishing the narco-list is violative of due process.

“This virtual hit list, like the ‘terror list’ of hundreds of activists and alleged insurgents compiled recently by the Department of Justice, violates due process and is an affront to the rule of law,” said Conde.

The Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7) likewise expressed concern about publicly accusing barangay officials of having links to the illegal drug trade without any substantial proof.

Instead, CHR – 7 Regional Director Arvin Odron advised the PDEA to file complaints against these barangay officials before the courts.

“The CHR agrees that there is need to cleanse the local government from those who exacerbate the drug problem. If the intention is to cleanse the local government from those involved in drugs, the legal process is the best way to ensure that those proven to be erring local executives can no longer serve or return to public office,” Odron said in a text message sent to Cebu Daily News.

Cebu City Councilors Raymond Alvin Garcia and Pastor Alcover Jr. of Barug Team Rama shared the same sentiments with the CHR-7.

“They should really file cases against these people kay lain kaay ning (because it’s not right that it’s) all talk, no action. Name these narco-politicians provided that they build up a case and file a case against these individuals,” said Garcia.

Alcover, on the other hand said the simple act of publishing names of barangay officials involved in the illegal drug trade without any substantial proof to support the allegations would ruin the reputations of those who are wrongly accused.

“I’m against just publishing it. But I’m not against filing cases against them. Because if you’re just going to publish the list, you’re condemning the accused without giving them a chance to defend themselves. What if they’re innocent?” Alcover said in Cebuano.

Last Thursday, PDEA – 7 Director Emerson Margate announced that their central office is set to publicize President Duterte’s list of narco-politicians in the barangay level within the week or on Monday, April 30.

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TAGS: disclosure, narco list, partisan, politics, tantamount

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