Plans to release narco-list draw varied reactions

By Jessa Mae O. Sotto, Morexette Marie B. Erram, Nestle L. Semilla |December 29,2018 - 11:24 PM

Cebuano government officials are divided over plans by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to release the government’s so-called narco-list or list of politicians allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade, before the May 2019 elections.

A news report published by GMA News Online, quoted Año as saying that most of the names found in the narco-list are public officials from Cebu and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

But while the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) welcomed the plan, the Commission on Human Rights 7 (CHR-7) once again cautioned officers of its legal repercussions.

PDEA-7 Director Wardley Getalla told Cebu Daily News in a text message that he agreed with Año’s plans of releasing the narco-list as means of guiding the voters in the coming elections.

“We are very supportive of DILG’s (Department of the Interior and Local Government) plan to release the names of narco-politicians in order for the voters to be aware of background of their candidates and for them to reject them during the election,” said Getalla.

However, he said the decision is up to the DILG central office who has the list.

“We don’t have a copy of the list. And we don’t have any information pertaining to it,” Getalla added.

On the other hand, CHR regional director, lawyer Arvin Odron, reiterated their warnings to government officials regarding their plan to publish the narco-list ahead of the May 2019 polls.

Odron, in a separate text message sent to CDN, said the list should be backed with supporting evidence, and that they should file formal complaints before the court so that the accused will be given a proper venue to answer them.

“As what we’ve said before, we understand that the intent of the publication is to inform the voters that these officials are not worthy of public trust. However, the presumption of innocence and the right to due process must not be compromised as these are the Constitutional guarantees to ensure that human rights are protected at all times,” said Odron.

“The CHR agrees that there is a need to cleanse the local government from those who exacerbate the drug problem. Rule of law dictates that filing a case in court is the proper way to apprehend and exact accountability from erring public officials,” he added.

The CHR-7 made this warning last October when DILG first announced their plans to release the narco-list if it meant preventing narco-politicians from being reelected this May 2019.

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