By Celso Amo
LEGAZPI CITY --- The Philippine National Police in Sorsogon said that some 105 barangay officials and prospective Sangguniang Kabataan members who are involved in illegal drugs are candidates in the coming May 14 elections.
Senior Supt. Marlon Tejada, Sorsogon provincial police director, said there are 5 incumbent barangay captains involved in illegal drugs while there are 8 new barangay captain aspirants including 84 barangay officials with 32 who are incumbents and 52 as new barangay kagawad candidates as well as four Sangguniang Kabataan chairmen and four SK councilors who are in the drug watch list.
“This is what we are going to discuss during our command conference to ensure that those who will run for the barangay chairmen and councilors as well as Sangguniang Kabataan chairmen and councilors are not involved in illegal drugs,” said Tejada.
“Our problem is how can these public officials if ever they are elected show their leadership in the campaign against illegal drugs in the community,” said Tejada.
“A public office is a public trust.”
Some of the barangay officials were former drug surrenderees who had undergone rehabilitation while others did not.
He said he will discuss the problem with the mayors of the barangays involved.
“The list given by PDEA on Monday is not yet complete and we are coordinating with PDEA to come up with an updated list,” said Tejada.
Tejada said he is working hard to make Sorsogon the first drug-free province in Bicol six months from now.
Former Barangay Councilo Russel Vergara of Barangay 11 who was one in the “narco-list” disclosed on Monday said he was involved in illegal drugs in 2010.
“It was long time ago... I had already changed and I’m now involved in church-related activities,” said Vergara who is now working at the municipal government of Bacacay.
He said the list puts in the negative light the reputation of his children especially his wife who is a government teacher.
“I can’t accept my inclusion in the narco-list because there are those who are involved in illegal drugs who are not listed and who should be in the list,” he added.
He appealed to PDEA to find those who are really involved in illegal drugs in his community.
In a related development, Alex Brogada a barangay chairman in Sogod in Tinambac,Camarines Sur said the name that was involved in the “narco-list” cannot be found among his constituents and it’s not likely that his barangay councilors are involved in illegal drugs.
“I’m strict and monitor closely my councilors ,” said Brogada.
“That barangay official could be in another barangay but not in our barangay,” he added.
He is asking the PDEA and the PNP to correct the information because it puts in a bad light his leadership and his barangay kagawads’ performance especially with the coming barangay and Sangguniang Bayan elections.
Meanwhile, Guinobatan Mayor Gemma Ann Ongjoco also asked the PDEA and the PNP to come up with a new validated list of barangay officials who are involved in illegal drugs.
Of the 19 barangay officials included in the “narco-list” in Albay some 10 barangay officials came from Guinobatan and of the 34 barangay kagawads in the drug list 14 were from Guinobatan.
The Bicol region has the most number of barangay officials in the list with 70, followed by Caraga with 32 officials and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with 13.