Credit to Author: clopez| Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2019 21:34:22 +0000
There are not enough evidence to file criminal complaints against those named in the narcolist released by President Duterte on Thursday, the Philippine National Police has admitted.
In a press conference on Friday, PNP spokesperson Col. Bernard Banac clarified that only administrative complaints had been filed so far against the 46 politicians in the list based on various “testimonies” and validation by law enforcement agencies.
“We won’t stop gathering information. When we have strong evidence, we will not hesitate to immediately file criminal complaints,” Banac said.
Earlier on Thursday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that what was filed in the Ombudsman were administrative complaints for grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, conduct unbecoming of a public officer and gross neglect of duty.
“This means [that the politicians were found to be] either protectors (of those involved in the drug trade) or were negligent in allowing the spread of drugs in their areas,” Banac said.
President Duterte on Thursday night announced over live television the names of 46 incumbent officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
The list consisted of 35 mayors, seven vice mayors, a provincial board member and three members of the House of Representatives.
“With the filing of cases with the Ombudsman, those in the initial ‘narcolist’ released by the President will now have an opportunity to refute or rebut the allegations against them,” Interior Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said.
Malacañang said politicians tagged in the narcolist could always seek redress from the courts.
“As I have previously stated, there is always a remedy to judicial resort for those who feel they have been injured by the announcement (of their inclusion in the list),” said presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
“The drug menace is a national security problem as it destroys the basic unit of our society, the family,” Panelo said.
Banac said that since 2016, the PNP has filed drug complaints against 157 local officials, usually at the barangay level, who were caught in buy-bust operations.
Responding to criticisms that drugs watch lists, especially those publicized by the President, tend to endanger the lives of those named, Banac said the PNP was “ready to give security … not only to government officials, but even ordinary citizens when there are validated threats.”
Amid criticisms that narcolists were politicized, Banac said the PNP would remain “impartial, neutral and nonpartisan” in the May elections.
Validation took 14 months
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) expressed confidence in the latest “narcolist,” and said that law enforcement agencies had conducted validation on the report for 14 months.
“This is only the partial list of narcopoliticians. Others are still being revalidated, while there are (names) transferred to the civilian list since they are no longer holding or running for public office,” the PDEA said in a statement on Friday evening.
In the Senate, Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Friday said investigators of the Office of the Ombudsman should hasten their probe of the alleged involvement of several politicians in the narco trade to enable those named in the list to defend themselves.
“It is now incumbent upon the (Ombudsman) investigators to fast-track and immediately clear the names of those without sufficient basis to support even a pretrial investigation,” the senator said in a statement.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he would order the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct its own investigation of the politicians in the narcolist.
“As soon as the (Department of Justice) receives the intelligence reports from the DILG and PDEA or copies of the complaints filed with the Ombudsman, we shall commence our own criminal investigation,” Guevarra said. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO