Release narco-lists now

October 18, 2018

IF the narco-lists of the government are indeed credible, they should be made public as soon as possible not only to guide voters in the 2019 elections but also to spark investigation on individuals linked to illegal drugs.

I don’t see any reason to delay or withhold the release of the narco-lists except for the possibility that they are not dependable and may be contested in court which could only bring more trouble instead of help to government.

But newly-appointed Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the narco-lists  “are not products of mere conceptions but are based on intelligence reports which underwent a series of comprehensive assessments.”

Being the case, the government should not have any doubt on releasing that very important lists because the public deserves to know the individuals who, according to Panelo, are “destroying or ravaging our nation through facilitating the proliferation of dangerous drugs in our societies.”

In the name of transparency and to observe freedom of information, the narco-lists should be released now.

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The Philippine’s recent election to the United Nations Human Rights Council should provide renewed impetus for the government to quell rising criminality in the country.

Incidence of crime notably decreased at the height of President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs -- which is the root of other crimes -- in the first two years of his term. However, it steadily rose again lately  after Duterte heeded calls to stop his bloody anti-drug war.

Duterte earlier tried to revive the drive, saying it would be ‘more chilling’ this time, but miserably failed, having given organized crime the time to regroup and reestablish positions.  More prohibited drugs from foreign sources are reentering the country and are now circulating in many barangays, giving rise to a surge in various crimes being reported in media everyday.

But the recent development in the UNHRC may change the trend as it could somehow pump in new energy for Duterte’s brutal, yet effective, approach against criminality. It now all depends on Duterte’s will and strength to recall the real drug war.

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This corner believes in the capacity of local government units to effect change in our society. Infact, many of the serious problems --traffic, drugs, health, peace and order -- desperately being resolved by the national government can be easily fixed by the barangays themselves.

But our barangays are not empowered. Lack of funds and technical support make them mere symbols of authority. How can one be inspired to work or serve the public if the only thing he has is a title? Yet, there are barangays that are making wonders. In their own little ways, they can solve the mess in traffic and peace and order.

Take for example Barangay Veterans in Quezon City.  The community of more than 11,000 people used to have traffic woes in Munoz-EDSA due to road obstructions. But newly-elected barangay chief Josefina Landingin coordinated with the  Metro Manila Development Authority and was able to resolve the problem. That area, particularly the one near the market place, is now clear of illegally parked vehicles and illegal vendors.

With an area of almost 52 hectares, Baranggay Veterans was also a favorite target of criminals—holduppers, snatchers, drug pushers, etc. Crime incidents related to these misfits have been tremendously reduced owing to the response of local law enforcers led by newcomer kagawad Perlito ‘Bong’ Oteyza. A security expert from the private sector, Oteyza joined public service as he finds a challenging cause to promote barangay security.

Both Landingin and Oteyza belong to a sector usually deprived of government attention. Despite this, they can deliver change.

What more if they are truly empowered?

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