SOME mayors on President Duterte’s “narco-list” are bent on seeking reelection in 2019 and Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said it is up to the voters to decide the politicians’ election fate since they really cannot stop them from filing their candidacy a few weeks from now.
“There is no law barring these mayors from running for office unless they are convicted by the court. Hence, it is up for the voters to be discerning enough, to make their own decision on whether to vote for these so-called “narco-politicians’ or not,” the PNP chief told the Journal Group in an interview at Camp Crame.
This early, some former and incumbent mayors on the President’s ‘narco-list” have aired their intention to seek mayoral posts anew in their respective cities and municipalities and have even requested the PNP to have them “delisted” from the government’s “narco-list.”
One of them, former Cebu City Mayor Michael ‘Mike’ Rama has already asked the assistance of the Police Regional Office regarding the matter although the local police said it has to get clearance from the PNP national headquarters.
The Journal Group learned that a PNP Command Memorandum Circular issued on August 16, 2017said that the PNP Adjudication Board was created to handle cases of police officers and men included in the “narco-list” and has no authority to clear elected government officials and other civilians included in the list.
PNP officials who demanded anonymity since they are not allowed to speak on the matter said the PNP actually has no standard protocols when it comes to clearing civilians on the narco-list.
“All we can do is to conduct a thorough validation of all old and new information regarding those in the narco-list and submit them to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for final recommendation,” one of the officials said.
Rama, listed in President Duterte’s “narco-list” as a “drug user and protector” last Friday underwent a drug test by the Regional Crime Laboratory Office 7 and was found to be negative for any substance.
The drug test was conducted shortly after the ex-mayor met with PRO7 director Chief Superintendent Debold M. Sinas with the latter saying the PNP cannot clear elected public officials, other public workers and civilians considered as “high-value drug targets” or drug protectors.
All they can do, according to Sinas, is evaluate Rama’s records and submit the result of their complete background investigation to the PNP Directorate for Intelligence and the Office of the Chief,PNP.
Two months ago, members of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines requested a dialogue with President Duterte over the assassination of several local officials, including some on the “narco-list.”
Four mayors in the list have been killed since 2016, the latest Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan City who was felled by a sniper’s bullet while attending a flag-raising ceremony at the town capitol.
The League of Cities of the Philippines also called on authorities to “review and properly validate” the “narco-list” claiming that the names on the list deserve to be heard and given due process immediately.
Many on the list have been stripped of their supervisory power over the police. One of them was Halili who had vehemently denied any involvement in illegal drug activities on Day 1 he was named in the list until his killing.
Other mayors on the “narco-list” who were killed include Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte; Reynaldo “Aldong” Parojinog of Ozamiz City; and Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.