By Rey Panaligan
Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said Sunday the 46 elected officials named by President Duterte as involved in illegal drugs still enjoy the constitutional presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
Guevarra also said there was no violation of due process since those named in the list would be given the chance to debunk the allegations against them both in the administrative and criminal aspects.
He also said the “so-called narco list was made known after the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) had filed administrative charges against the local government officials mentioned in the list.”
“These officials therefore would have a forum where they could controvert the charges of gross misconduct, conduct unbecoming a public officer, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and other charges thrown against them,” Guevarra pointed out.
He said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has yet to start its formal fact-finding probe.
“The DOJ is awaiting copies of the complaints so far lodged with the Ombudsman and the Anti-Money Laundering Council and/or copies of the intel reports of the PDEA and PNP before we commence a more thorough investigation of the criminal aspect,” he said.
“Should these charges go to preliminary investigation, we assure all respondents of a fair and impartial hearing,” he stressed.
At the same time, Guevarra said President Duterte did not prejudge the 46 officials included in the list and, thus, the President cannot be held accountable for releasing the list.
“The publication of their names was made by the President in recognition of the right of the people to be informed of matters pertaining to national interest and public safety, without necessarily prejudging the guilt of the persons cited in the list,” Guevarra pointed out.