President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday refused to release the names of suspected narco-politicians running in the 2019 midterm elections,
even though the Department of the Interior and Local Government is doing so to the Commission on Elections.
He said it was not “a “good policy” for the government to disclose the names after the DILG recommended the disqualification of candidates in the drug list.
“It’s not a good policy to telegraph your intention or what you know about the other fellow [politicians], especially in matters of breaking penal laws,” Duterte said in a press conference in Davao City Friday morning.
DILG Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya said they would submit the list of politicians linked to drugs, corruption, and abuse of authority to the Comelec as the period of filing of the certificates of candidacies started on Wednesday.
“The pronouncement of Secretary Eduardo Año is that we are going to release [the names of] all of those narco-politicians and we are also going to forward to the Commission on Elections all of those lists, the narco-politicians and those with cases for their proper disposition,” Malaya said in a Palace press briefing Friday.
The DILG previously called for the disqualification of politicians in the said drug list who plan to run in the upcoming elections.
Senators Francis Pangilinan and Aquilino Pimentel III, on different sides of the political fence, both said disqualifying candidates based on the narco-list was illegal.
The Comelec has scheduled a hearing on the DILG petition.
Meanwhile, the poll watchdog group Legal Network for Truthful Elections said the DILG cannot recommend the disqualification of candidates.
The executive director of the group, Ona Caritos, told a TV interview that the law says persons can only be disqualified based on a final judgement or conviction.
The Palace had previously maintained, too, that a suspected narco-politician can only be disqualified if convicted with finality and that the accessory penalty for disqualification from public office has been decreed by the court.
The department said about 93 local officials, including 58 mayors, are reported to have been included in the government’s list of narco-politicians.
Malaya admitted the department was aware of the legal impediments should they go after these officials, and would let the Comelec handle such concerns.
Año said he feared the politicians in the narco-list might use drug money to win and buy votes, emphasizing they “will look at the severity of the officials’ involvement.”
During the barangay elections, the government declassified the names of barangay officials linked to the illegal drug trade. The President, however, has not given the DILG the leeway to do the same.
DILG Undersecretary for Operations Epimaco Densing III added that the DILG estimates that the country is losing P70 billion a year to corruption at the local level.
Also on Friday, DILG Undersecretary Martin Diño said the department would file administrative charges against barangay officials who fail to create their own barangay anti-drug abuse councils and submit reports by Oct. 30.
At the Usapang Politika, Agrikultura at Komunidad media forum in Quezon City, Diño said, “I can’t wait forever.”
Even the DILG’s regional offices have a lot of explaining to do over the barangay officials’ failure to activate or reactivate BADACS, he said.
The aid barangay executives must lead the fight against illegal drugs and ensure that measures are being undertaken to implement the war on drugs.
“There should be a BADAC desk in every barangay,” he said.
READ: Another mayor on Rody’s list of ‘narco-pols’ killed