Bicolanos urged to review ‘narco list’ before voting
By Jorge Hallare LEGAZPI CITY --- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Bicol has urged voters in the region to review the list of barangay officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs trade before casting their votes during the barangay and SK elections (BSKE) on May 14, a top official said yesterday. PDEA Bicol Regional Director Christian Frivaldo in an interview said they have to choose the right candidates that will serve them. Frivaldo said all the names of barangay captains and barangay kagawads who were in the lists were tipped off by their own villagers, and verified by the four agencies including PDEA, Philippine National Police, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA). He noted the lists released by PDEA central office were already verified by concerned agencies since 2016, and assured in the veracity of the named officials. Frivaldo said many of the listed ‘narco’ officials are seeking re-election, while street drug users (SDUs) and drug surrenders have filed their certificates of candidacy. He further said there are still barangay officials who are not in the list but are under surveillance because of alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade in their own villages. Meanwhile, Mayor Noel Rosal of Legazpi City, also the chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in Bicol, said the number of the named ‘narco’ village officials in Bicol region, especially in Albay, is alarming. He said they will tackle the problem at the next RPOC meeting. PDEA central on Monday released the list of 207 barangay officials in the country involved in illegal trade, which included 90 barangay captains and 117 barangay kagawads. 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.