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Narco list of 207 barangay execs allegedly involved in illegal drugs ‘not a hit list’ — PDEA

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino on Monday assured the public that the list of barangay officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs will not serve as a hit list, nor will its disclosure become a trial by publicity.

"There's no truth that this will serve as a hit list," Aquino said at the PDEA-DDB headquarters. "We want to be legitimate in our operations, we want our operations to be transparent."

Aquino assured the public that the Philippine National Police and other units involved in the operations will give those on the list "protection" and assured the persons on the list that "nobody will harm them."

The PDEA chief said the list was validated by four government agencies "on the ground" and affirmed that they will push through with the filing of cases "in due time" or "in a week or two" with the Ombudsman" and will release the list of names to the public soon.

"Some barangay officials are users, some are pushers, even to the level of a drug lord. But most of them are protectors," Aquino said.

Of the 207 names, 90 are barangay captains and 117 are barangay kagawads; 70 are located in Region V, 34 are in CAR, and 13 are located in ARMM.

A total of 86 people on the initial list of 293 drug suspects died or have been arrested before the announcement on Monday: 46 of the 293 were arrested; 20 were killed in incidents, either by riding in tandem or homicide, that remain under investigation; five died in police operations after they allegedly struggled; and five died due to natural causes.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) OIC Eduardo Año said the seriousness of the case was aggravated by the fact that barangay officials were elected to their position by the people.

"What aggravated the fact is that they are government officials. They are responsible. Public office is a public trust," Año said.

DDB Sec. Catalino Cuy said the upcoming barangay and SK election is a chance for residents to remove the officials on the list from their posts.

"The public and the community (want) to get rid of these people. The president wants to get rid of those who are involved in illegal drugs. Dapat aware ang mga kandidato nila sa mga iboboto nila," he said.

PDEA will release the names of 274 more barangay officials once they are verified.

Further verification needed

While Aquino insisted that their list was thoroughly verified, he said more evidence are needed to ensure that their cases are airtight and could not be easily overturned.

"The validation is not enough. Hindi kasi pwedeng barabara ang pagfi-file ng kaso. Otherwise, madi-dismiss yung kaso. We need to make sure that the case is airtight; kumbaga, lahat ng ebidensya andun na," he said.

Last week, Aquino said they were ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte to reveal the names of barangay officials on the list for their alleged involvement in illegal drugs. Malacañang added more names to the list a day later, leading the total number of names to increase to 211.

Defying his earlier pronouncement, Duterte on Saturday deemed the announcement on Monday "untimely" as he wished "to get back all of those who want to come back."

Aquino denied that Duterte said this pertained to the list; rather, he said, this was said in relation to overseas Filipino workers.

"Walang further guidance na sinabi sa akin," he said. — RSJ/KBK, GMA News