By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senators warned anew the government against releasing the names of politicians allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson raised alarm over the planned release of the narco list ahead of the 2019 polls, saying it could be used for politicking.
“The danger lies on invalidated and worse, mistaken inclusion of some candidates in the narco list. Politics, whether local or national can be scheming, tricky and dirty,” Lacson said Friday.
The former police chief even cited his experience as “glaring example” of such scenario, when he was accused by former state witness Angelo “Ador” Mawanay and ex-Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) chief Victor Corpus of involvement in illegal drugs.
“Ador Mawanay, Victor Corpus have since retracted, the latter even apologized publicly for all the false accusations made against me. While I have forgiven them and the others who made my life miserable some 18 years ago, the negative effect of the injustice that I suffered can’t just be disregarded,” he said.
Sen. Koko Pimentel, for his part, said the government should put instead its attention on the supply of illegal drugs, especially if these were sourced from Philippines’ close ally, China.
“Government should focus on the supply. Cut the supply of drugs. If these come from China we should use our closeness to China by asking their authorities to help us stop the supply coming from their territory,” Pimentel said in a text message.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said authorities should file charges against the alleged narco politicians before making public their names.
“May problema nang kaunti (There is some problem with it). Unless cases will be filed against them, parang ang hirap maglabas ng listahan (it would be difficult to release the list). Kung may mga kaso na sila nai-file, may mga ebidensya na sila, pero kung hearsay lang, parang mahirap naman (They can disclose the list if they had already filed cases, or if they have evidence to prove their claims. But if it is based on hearsay, it won’t be easy),” Zubiri told reporters during the regular Kapihan sa Senado forum Thursday.
“My suggestion is you only release the names of those who have cases filed in court. They can still defend themselves in the court of law. If they truly believe that these are drug lords or protectors, file a case in the court. Kawawa naman ang iba kung tsismis-tsismis lang,” he said.
Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said he is keen on releasing the narco list before the May, 2019 midterm polls so that voters would be discouraged to choose leaders linked in illegal drugs.