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President yet to release names of narco politicians

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President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to approve the release of the names of suspected politicians involved in illegal drug trade, but the Palace said the “credible” list would help inform the public.

“The President has yet to categorically announce if he will approve the release of this list amid the forthcoming elections,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement Wednesday.

He said the Dangerous Drugs Board has asked Duterte to “guide the voters” by divulging the list of narco-politicians running for the 2019 midterm elections.

“The position of the DDB finds a basis on the people’s right to information, which certainly includes the right to be cognizant of the profile, background, and upbringing of candidates we will choose to elect to powerful positions,” said Panelo.

The President, according to Panelo, has underscored the importance of knowing such information for the public “to make intelligent and studied choices” on the upcoming elections.

Panelo said the narco-lists prepared by the country’s law enforcement agencies are not “mere conceptions” but based on “comprehensively assessed” intelligence reports.

“The public can thus be assured that these lists are credible and not propaganda tools to taint the characters of candidates,” he said.

“It should not be perceived as a verdict against those candidates named therein as they are free to seek recourse and object to the findings of our authorities in clearing their reputations,” he added.

Panelo said that the sole purpose of its release is to inform the public of various personalities involved in destroying or ravaging the country through drug proliferation and facilitation.

“The President takes into consideration all rights and interests involved to ensure that the 2019 elections are not only credible and peaceful but also one that is truly reflective of the people’s desires and aspirations,” Panelo said.

The Palace statement came almost a week after the President refused to disclose the names of suspected narco-politicians even as the Department of the Interior and Local Government recommended the disqualification of candidates listed in the drug list.

Duterte argued such release will not be a “good policy” of the government.

Philippine National Police chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde, meanwhile, backed Duterte’s statement that there was a need to validate reports saying that the bulk of illegal drugs entering the country is from China.

“Totoo ang sabi ng Presidente [What the President said is true.] Because what we have are intelligence information, it has to be validated,” Albayalde told reporters on Tuesday. 

The PNP Chief said there are also locally produced illegal drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine which do not involve Chinese nationals.

Duterte had said that some importers are being manipulated by international drug cartels, which means people should not jump to the conclusion that whoever owns the ships that allegedly brought drugs to the country are to blame.

“Kaya kawawa naman, yung mga tao [I feel bad for these people] especially the legitimate importers and their containers are taken

advantage of by criminal gangs. So there has to be a thorough investigation before we start to blame, mostly Chinese.”

He said the root of Southeast Asia’s drug problem stems from the Triad of Asia in cahoots with the Sinaloa and Medellin Cartels of Mexico City.

He said a “thorough investigation” should be conducted first before making any pronouncements.

In May 2017, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) recovered 605 kilos of shabu worth PHP6.4 billion from a shipment from China which slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and discovered in a warehouse in Valenzuela City.

In August, authorities intercepted two magnetic lifters which had contained 500 kilos of shabu.

A few days later, empty four magnetic lifters were found in a warehouse in Cavite. The PDEA alleged that the magnetic lifters contained at least a ton of illegal drugs which may have already been distributed on the streets.

The PDEA said Chinese nationals were reportedly involved in the smuggling of magnetic lifters which contain suspected shabu. With PNA

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