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Bahala na kayo! DILG turns over narco-list of politikos to Comelec

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The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Friday it would give the Commission on Elections (Comelec) a copy of its narco-list to disqualify narco-politikos from running in next year’s midterm elections.

DILG spokeperson, Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya, said his agency would give the Comelec a copy of the narco-list after the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) on October 17.

Altough he acknowledged that narco-politicians cannot be disqualified unless they have been convicted with finality, he said he will leave it to the Comelec to decide on its next course of action.

Despite the legal impediments, Malaya said the DILG stands pat on its decision to have the narco-politicians disqualified, noting the public deserves to know about the candidates they are voting for.

“We would want them to be disqualified. But there are some legal impediments kasi as mentioned already by some election lawyers. So, in so far as we’re concerned, we would like the public to be informed of the list, we would like them to know that these are those with pending cases,” Malaya said.

“Now if they are to be disqualified or not, that’s no longer the call of the department. It’s now the call of the Commission on Elections,” he added. “We will reassess what we need to do. Perhaps, we may release the list to the public just like what we did during the last barangay elections.”

Legal remedies

Newly-designated Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, on the other hand, defended the DILG’s proposal to publicize the narco-list.

Panelo admitted that there is a slim chance that narco-politicians would be disqualified.

“As I said earlier, yung disqualification baka malabo ’yun (has a slim chance) because it might violate the due process of the Constitution. With respect to releasing the list, ang problema kasi (the problem is), the DILG has also the responsibility to the citizens of this country to tell them exactly kung ano yung findings nila (their findings). You cannot also blame them,” Panelo said.

“In the same way, when the President released a list of those names, he was implementing the duty imposed on him in the Constitution that people have the right to information. And since the President has all the resources in the world to have access to information, he felt that it was his duty to let the people know,” he added.

He, however, assured local officials on the narco-list that there were legal remedies for those wrongly accused of being involved in the drug trade.

“What I’m saying is we are run by the rule of law regardless of who is involved, we have to bow to the majesty of the law,” he added.

DILG Officer-in-Charge, Secretary Eduardo Año, earlier said since 2016, there have been 300 local officials facing administrative cases who might be suspended and dismissed.

A total of 93 local officials are included on the narco-list, while 250 others have pending cases investigated by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Año added.

Only the Comelec has the authority to disqualify candidates. (PNA)