By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan
MANILA -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Wednesday reiterated that the 207 barangay officials included in President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s ‘narco list’ were validated by the four law enforcement agencies.
“As already mentioned by our Director General Aaron Aquino the validation was done by the four member agencies of the inter-agency Task Force composed of PDEA, PNP, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), at Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP),” PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon said.
Carreon made the reiteration when sought for comment on a report that one of the barangay kagawads in Batangas who was gunned down last year is still included in the narco list.
Former Kagawad Lauro Vincencio of Barangay Pantay Matanda, Tanauan, Batangas was shot dead near his house by still unidentified assailants last January 2017.
Carreon said they will re-validate the alleged inaccuracies but assured the public that concerned government agencies carefully crafted the list.
“If there are any inaccuracies as claimed, we will look into
it again, but we assure the public that the concerned agencies exercised due diligence in the validation process,” he said.
“We have also obtained inputs from our Regional Offices so that the initial figure of 293 was eventually trimmed down to 207 yesterday,” he added.
“(PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino went further by saying that barangay officials who are not in this 207 narco list are not out of the woods yet because we still have 274 in the PDEA watch list for validation,” he added.
Meanwhile, Aquino said that he is ready to face legal actions that may arise from the release of the narco list.
“I don’t care about legal actions. I expected that, and my legal team will deal with it,” he said during last Monday press briefing.
Aquino said the filing of charges against the officials on the list, which include 90 barangay captains and 117 barangay kagawads, should be expected in a “week or two.”
He noted that Bicol Region has the most number with 70 barangay officials, followed by Caraga (Region 13) with 34, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao with 13 and in National Capital Region (NCR) with 12, from Caloocan, Malabon, Manila, Mandaluyong and Quezon City.
Aquino said the announcement of narco list was made ahead of the May 14 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) elections for the public to determine who they are going to vote for in their respective barangays.
“Public office is a public trust. The public officials are accountable to the people...It’s fair enough for the people to know what particularly the official is doing,” he said.
“This announcement is also supposedly a guide to the public on who to vote for in the upcoming election. For them to be aware and vigilant to choose properly; to elect the candidates who are active on anti-illegal drug campaign and not to vote on people who were involved in illegal drugs,” he added. (With reports from Red Andador)