By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Saturday maintained that it is hightime to release the names of government officials who are suspected to have links with the illegal drug trade.
Pimentel backed Duterte’s decision to make public the names of alleged narco-politicians, saying this would finally give public officials a chance to clear their names.
“Sa tagal na panahon na binabanggit na may listahan, sa tingin ko kailangan na ilabas yun. Actually, nakatingin ako sa mga listahan, in fairness those sa mga nasa listahan para malaman nila kung gusto nila linisin ang kanilang pangalan ay pwede na sila kumilos…So mabuti na rin po ‘yan na nailabas na,” Pimentel said in an interview over radio DWIZ on Saturday.
(For the longest time, the government has been mentioning that there is a list, I think it is but necessary to release it. Actually, I am looking at those in the list, in all fairness to them, they should know about it so they could finally work and clear their names if they want to. So it’s better to have the narco-list released.)
Duterte, last Thursday, enumerated the names of 46 local government officials allegedly involved in the drug trade. Several of them are running in the May 13, midterm elections.
Of the 46 names, 10 belong to the ruling Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which Duterte and Pimentel lead. Eight of the implicated PDP-Laban members are gunning for elective posts in the upcoming polls, Pimentel said.
While he admitted that the release of names may affect the voters’ choices, Pimentel, a reelectionist himself, said he is not focusing on the President’s timing, as he explained that government agencies have long been preparing and vetting the narco-list.
Reputation, he added, should be more important than one’s bid for elective position.
“Politics is just secondary. Reputation is more important than political position,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Pimentel has urged the urged the Department of Justice to begin filing cases against those included in the government’s narco-list.
But in the lack of evidence for criminal charges — as the Philippine National Police had admitted — Pimentel said administrative cases are so far “good enough”.
On the other hand, he said those tagged as narco-politicians should also be given the chance and “wide publicity” to prove their innocence.
Senator Grace Poe, likewise, expressed support for the release of the narco-list.
“Ang Pangulo ay abogado, siguro alam niya ang ginagawa niya (The President is a lawyer. He probably knows what he is doing),” Poe told reporters in an interview.
Also a reelectionist, Poe said she was first worried about the announcement of those suspected to be involved in illegal drugs especially that it’s election season. But, “speaking frankly,” she said was also curious how the politicians ended up in the drug list.
“Basta ang importante ay ito: magfile ng kaso at sagutin nila sa korte (What’s important is that charges should be filed and they should answer before the courts),” she said.
“At least nalabas na yan, eh kung fake naman pala silang ano, eh ‘di mapatunayan sa korte, ‘di ba (At least it was released, and if it’s fake, it will be proven in courts, right)?”
Poe said the alleged narco-politicians could also address their people and deny the accusations against them.
READ MORE: 46 local officials in Duterte’s narcolist