Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief knows nothing about wiretapped drug info

March 06, 2019
Salvador Panelo

THE head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency does not know whether or not foreign governments gave the Philippines information on officials allegedly linked to the narcotics trade.

Earlier Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was quoted as saying that the international community gave Manila wiretapped information on politicians dabbling in illegal drugs and other crimes as he vouched for the integrity of another narco-list that the government plans to release.

PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said intelligence reports on narco-politicians were already with his agency when he took office.

Aquino said he instructed operatives to revalidate the intelligence report multiple times.

Wiretapping is illegal under Philippine law, but there is nothing wrong with receiving wiretapped information from other countries, said Panelo, who is also the Chief Legal Counsel of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Authorities next week will release its narco-list tagging 82 personalities, 64 of whom are candidates in the May 13 midterm elections, said Aquino.

“Six or seven” congressmen are on the list, he said, but declined to give additional details.

PDEA and the interior department last year named some 200 village officials allegedly involved with narcotics, just a month ahead of the May barangay elections.

Charges have since been lodged against some officials on the list, including 15 who failed to organize their Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council, said Interior Undersecretary Martin Diño.

Case build-up is ongoing for other officials, he said.

“Mayroong case build-up. Talagang tuloy-tuloy ang pagga-gather ng evidence natin to file appropriate cases laban sa kanila sa Ombudsman or sa regular court,” he said in a separate DZMM interview.

Sixty officials on the barangay narco-list won fresh mandates in last year’s polls.

Alleged drug-tainted politicians could have used narcotic payoffs to buy votes, said Aquino.

The Commission on Human Rights earlier said it recognizes that the list is meant to ensure that only law-abiding candidates get elected, but it also reminded the administration that “presumption of innocence is a Constitutionally-guaranteed right.”

The body urged the government to instead file cases against the alleged narco-officials.

Panelo, however, said some rights under the Constitution “can be waived.”

“These candidates who are involved in drugs, to my mind waived the right — to such right — of being given presumption of innocence,” he told ANC on Tuesday.