THE Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday, November 13, expressed its disapproval of releasing the “narco list” of politicians allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade. They echoed the sentiments of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) who chose not to publicly name accused officials.
PNP Spokesperson Bong Durana said that doing such “is not advisable” and the drug agency “was right in saying that we should refrain from issuing (the drug list).”
In an interview with the CNN Philippines’ “The Source,” Durana said that leaving the narco list only within the eyes of the proper authorities “is a very good law enforcement policy.” As such, Durana noted that the police force must not “telegraph their punches.”
This was after several authorities followed the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to release the names of 211 barangay officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs just days shy from the May 2018 barangay elections.
“Law enforcement-wise, as a strategy, it’s not advisable to publicly announce or divulge the list,” Durana added.
It can be recalled that Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año expressed his desire to do the same for the midterm elections next year to which PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino objected.
According to Aquino, he would “want to work silently — to just file charges against these politicians, narco-politicians” instead of releasing the drug list. This was supported by Durana who noted that the acquisition of such intelligence information “will not hold water in court.”
“At the same time, you may be charged for libel if you’re not sure with your list,” Durana added.
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who had ample experience in law enforcement, also disagreed with the move to release the narco list. He even dubbed the act of publicizing the list as “dumb” because barangay officials could have a heads up and can easily destroy evidence before an investigation would take place. He also perceived the said list as cruel noting that it had not undergone any validation.
As per the Interior Secretary’s perspective, the drug list would serve only as a guide for Filipinos on who to vote for the upcoming midterm elections. However, Aquino said that the voters would know who among their local politicians are involved in drugs.
Durana also shared that the police force has neutralized syndicates and criminals who offer their services to politicians.
“They’re not only acting as enforcers of drug syndicates; they’re also presenting themselves as private armed groups of politicians,” Durana said.
“Definitely some drug money would be involved. It’s a common thing, a common strategy. It’s nothing new,” he added.