Duterte tags 3 congressmen, 43 local government officials in ‘narco list’

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PRESIDENT Duterte finally named on Thursday night three congressmen and 43 local government officials in his narco list two weeks before the start of the campaign period for mid-term local elections. 

Duterte said the narco list he read was already “vetted and validated.”

However, after reading aloud at least 40 names from the list, the President stopped and said he was not sure about the other names. 

Upon the orders of Duterte, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said it has already filed complaints before the Ombudsman against these 46 government officials for their alleged involvement in illegal drug trade and activities. 

Provided by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the narco list included three members of the House of Representatives, 35 mayors, 7 vice-mayors, and one provincial board member. 

Two of the three congressmen are reelectionists in the May elections. 

Based on regional location, there is one each in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Mimaropa and Caraga Region; two each from Central Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula; three each from Central Luzon and Soccsksargen; four in Northern Mindanao; and five in Western Visayas.

Meanwhile, Calabarzon and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) each have 10 local officials on the narcolist.

The BusinessMirror has decided not to publish the list.

In a statement, Interior Secretary Eduardo  M. Año said the 46 narco-politicians are facing administrative charges of grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, conduct unbecoming of a public officer, and a gross neglect of duty. 

Prior to the release of the narco list, two senators had cautioned the DILG against proceeding its plan to publish a narco list of politicians before the start of campaign period for mid-term local elections starting March 29. 

Senator Richard Gordon earlier warned if the DILG officials issue a narcolist at this time, they could be liable for libel” if they cannot prove charges against the candidates. 

Gordon, a lawyer, said: “To me, the issue is you are accusing somebody (of a crime) without due process of law.”

Lacson also cautioned earlier against the premature disclosure of a narco list. “Until backed by evidence,” Lacson stressed that “a narco list remains unvalidated and should only be used for intelligence purposes in order to assist law enforcement in pursuing their case buildup with the end in view of filing appropriate criminal charges against those in the list.”

Lacson, who served as National Police Chief before joining the Senate, voiced concern that “making it public is unjust and unfair to those who may be delisted later, worse after the elections.”

Lacson recalled that this happened before, warning that “it could happen again.”