Administrative, criminal raps will be filed vs. alleged 'narco pols' – Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 5) — Politicians who are part of the government's drug watch list may soon face administrative and criminal charges, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Tuesday.

In his media briefing, Panelo said the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will be filing the said raps against those part of the controversial "narco list."

"The Constitution gives people the right to know matters of public concern, especially those that concern their lives and welfare. We have placed the drug problem as (one of) national security. We cannot allow people to run local governments by the destroyers of society," Panelo told reporters in Malacañang.

The spokesman said the DILG may release the list by next week.

He added the charges may filed simultaneously with the release of the information.

"Baka either simultaneous or mauna, it doesn't really matter kung anong mauna," Panelo noted.

"You cannot let the people wait. By the time nag-file ka ng charges, baka na-elect na 'yung mga 'yun."

[Translation: It may be simultaneous, or the charges may be filed first. It doesn't really matter what goes first. You cannot let the people wait. By the time you file charges, the people (in the list) may have been elected already.]

READ: Ex-police chief claims narco list '99.9% validated'

 

Right to due process waived?

Panelo likewise addressed detractors' claims that the move may deprive individuals their rights to due process and presumption of innocence.

He said once the candidate entered the election scene, everything is "fair game."

"Sa tingin ko (In my opinion), they already waived that right noong pumasok sila diyan (when they entered the scene). How can you demand that you are presumed innocent when you're involved in something criminal?" the spokesman stressed. "The due process clause applies to the life, liberty or property. Baka nga hindi sila pumasook doon because you don't deprive them of those three things pag lumabas lang yung listahan."

[Translation: They might not even be applicable for due process because you don't deprive  them (alleged narco politicians) of those three things when the list is released.]

"When you run for public office, everything is a fair game. You open to yourself to criticism. Noong pumasok sila diyan (when they entered it), they already took the risk of being exposed if they are involved," he added.

However, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) expressed reservations in releasing the list  soon since the body has not yet finished revalidating names included in it.

PDEA chief Aaron Aquino said authorities have yet to establish strong pieces of evidence against the politicians. He noted, however, that the agency will abide by the executive's order.

"As of now, there's an instruction to reveal or disclose the list. I can't do it right now because we haven't finished our revalidation of all narco politicians," Aquino said Tuesday.

"Kung next week ire-reveal (if it will be revealed next week), I just hope we can finish, we can finish the revalidation of this list."

The PDEA and the Anti-Money Laundering Council on Tuesday signed an agreement that will speed-up cooperation and coordination in relation to investigations related to illegal drugs and narco terrorism.

Administration bets earlier expressed support for the release of the list, given the government will provide enough basis for inclusion of names.

Opposition senatorial candidate and Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano meanwhile pertained to the move as a "scare tactic" of the administration.

The Commission on Human Rights has warned that the release of the list may prompt more election-related violence.

During a speech in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte talked about a "narco list," which he said includes names of mayors, governors, congressmen, barangay (village) captains, and police officers.

In April 2018, the chief executive ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to release the drug watch list of barangay chairmen ahead of the midterm polls.

CNN Philippines' Xave Gregorio contributed to this report.