DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer-In-Charge Eduardo Ano is calling on all candidates for next year’s midterm polls to “voluntarily submit” themselves to drug tests to prove their “sincerity” in being part of the government’s campaign against the menace of illegal drugs.
In a talk with the media on the sidelines of the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing last Monday on the proposed P223.9 billion budget of the department for 2019, the bemedalled and highly-respected former chief of the Armed Forces said that by doing so, candidates can prove to their constituents they are not into illegal drugs.
“Magpa-drug test sila… tatakbo sila bilang mayor, governor, congressman…they should prove their sincerity,” said the official whose confirmation as DILG secretary by the Commission on Appointment (CA) is being seen as a “breeze” by Finance Committee chairperson Sen. Loren Legarda and vice chair Sen. JV Ejercito.
Ano said the DILG is just about ready to confer with the Commission on Elections to push for the poll body to disqualify candidates linked to the illegal drug trade.
“We will ask the Comelec to look into the law for basis to disqualify these candidates,” he said.
The Comelec earlier said it is ready to entertain the DILG’s request but this should come by way of a formal petition. At the same time, the poll body reminded that mere inclusion in the so-called ‘narco list’ of Malacañang and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is not sufficient to de-list a candidate’s name from the ballot.
The Comelec is expected to finalize its list of official candidates by next month prior to the printing of official ballots.
Ano also urged political parties to emulate the example of PDP-Laban, which earlier announced that it would not accept candidates tarred by involvement in the illegal drug trade. “Other parties should follow the PDP-Laban declaration,” he added.
Aside from those linked to illegal drugs, Ano also bared the DILG is now investigating “more than 200” local chief executives (LCEs) accused of corruption.
He said the figure came from the complaints received by the ‘8888 Hotline’ and by the Presidential Complaint Action Desk in Malacañang.
“As the President said, there is ‘no sacred cow’ when it comes to corruption and right now, we are (already) investigating,” said the official hailed for his central role in the ‘liberation’ last year of Marawi City from the hands of terrorists.
The DILG and its attached agencies are also certain to have their respective budget proposals approved despite being P53 billion higher compared to this year after being assured by Legarda and Ejercito of the committee’s support.