Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jonathan Malaya clarified that the decision on whether or not to release the list of names of local officials involved in the drug trade is solely up to President Rodrigo Duterte. The DILG is currently building cases against the identified narco-politicians, but whether or not to make public the names is not for the department to decide.
“Well, we need to get clearance of the President to make that happen and we have not yet received that. In the last barangay elections, we got clearance that’s why we were able to release the names,” said Malaya in a television interview on Monday.
“The challenge now for us is to be able to file cases against them and to ensure that they do not stay in power. So again, it’s a continuous case buildup on the part of the PNP (Philippine National Police) because of the unrelenting approach to the drug war. Many of the officials have actually taken a more I should say non-active stance insofar as drugs are concerned because I think the government’s anti-drug war has taken a toll also on the operations of many of the syndicates in the country so it’s now more difficult to determine if a certain individual which used to be in the narco list continuous to be in the narco list. It’s an evolving process. Many of them have taken a backseat now as compared before,” Malaya continued.
Malaya also noted that, compared to previously compiled data, the number of officials on the list has decreased. This is based off data sourced from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), but it has yet to be validated.
“Nung nakausap ko ang PDEA ang sabi nila yung iba natakot na (The last time I talked to PDEA, they said some politicians got scared). (Some of them lied low because it’s an unrelenting campaign), yung iba (while others) because of pressure from many sources,” said Malaya.
The Duterte administration has taken strong stances against illegal drugs, lawlessness, and corruption, especially within the government. The DILG has been working to enforce these principles, partly through building cases against identified narco-politicians in order to prevent them from running in next year’s mid-term elections.
“We are in continuous talks with them to make sure the Filipino people get the complete information insofar as these individuals are concerned. We cannot make the Comelec (Commission on Elections) disqualify them obviously but we are doing this in the fulfillment of our mandate. We are the DILG, we would like to cleanse the department of individuals that are involved in the drug trade,” said Malaya.
Malaya noted that disqualifying candidates can only be done is the accused are convicted with finality. He also expressed hope that the poll body would find a way to disqualify them before that, as the judiciary process might not be able to accomplish the decisions in time for the coming elections.
According to DILG-OIC Secretary Eduardo Año, since 2016, there are 300 local officials facing administrative cases who might be suspended or dismissed as a result. Año added that a total of 93 local officials are included in the narco-list, while 250 other face pending cases being investigated by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.