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Senators divided on whether Duterte drug list should be released

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By Xave Gregorio

Senators are divided on whether President Rodrigo Duterte should release his drug list ahead of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on May 14.

Senate President Koko Pimentel said in a text message that the list, often flaunted by Duterte in speeches, should be released for those implicated to be able to clear their names.

“It’s actually ‘fairer’ to all concerned that the list be once and for all known rather than kept a secret and then used by ‘enterprising’ people for some extortion activities,” Pimentel said.

Along with the Senate President are Senators Migz Zubiri and Antonio Trillanes IV, who also want the drug list published to guide voters in the upcoming barangay polls.

The barangay and SK elections have been postponed twice, due to Duterte’s claims that local politikos may be getting funding from drug money.

But the President recently said he is “sleeping” on the proposal to release a list of barangay officials with links to drug trading.

Acting Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and incoming Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde disagree on the release of the list, with the Cabinet member saying the list would guide voters and with the top cop worrying that the list may be politicized.

Senator Gringo Honasan shares the same sentiments with Albayalde, as the release of the list may lead to a trial by publicity, instead of the due process of law.

Instead, Honasan wants authorities to “neutralize the confirmed and verified guilty swiftly by law or by force of law.”

Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto, for his part, said he “can live with both ideas” and would follow whatever Duterte’s stand is.

But if the list is ever released, Senator Sonny Angara said it should state that the findings are “preliminary and not conclusive,” especially if no charges have been filed yet.

He added that sources of the information should also be revealed, unless they are confidential or classified intelligence sources.