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Robredo doesn’t need high-value target narco-list, says Barbers

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House Committee on Dangerous Drugs chair and Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said Vice President Leni Robredo doesn’t need the list of high-value targets (HVT) in leading the Interagency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

According to Barbers, there is no need for Robredo to have a copy of HVT list since “it is classified information and must only be accessible to personalities with security clearance.”

“There is already a process in place to protect the confidential nature of such highly sensitive information that we, as government officials should respect,” said Barbers.

Barbers urge Robredo to exercise prudence in her job as co-chairperson of ICAD by respecting the processes in place that aim to protect the confidentiality of the government’s HVT list in the anti-drug war.

Barbers said while Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino has already expressed willingness in providing Robredo the HVT list, he believes that this is unnecessary given the confidential nature of this highly sensitive information which could fall into the wrong hands.

“While we all share the goal of eradicating narcotics and its sources here in the country, we should exercise due diligence and keep in mind that our national security should always be our paramount concern,” said Barbers.

Aquino earlier stressed that while he was willing to provide Robredo the HTV list, he can only do so under strict confidentiality through a closed-door meeting and only with officials with the proper security clearance.

Even Aquino, co-chair of ICAD, has pointed out that he does not have the HTV list in his possession and only checks it from time to time, Barbers noted.

Barbers said Robredo’s lack of access to the HTV list should not be viewed as a sign of disrespect or a lack of trust because ensuring the confidentiality of the list is standard operating procedure in law enforcement operations.

“Should the HTV list fall on the wrong hands, it might compromise the investigation done on these people and jeopardize the success of the anti-drug campaign, or worse, pose a threat to national security,” Barbers said.

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