BAGUIO CITY – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Cordillera has vowed to pursue its operations against “narco-politicians” even during the barangay elections.
It stressed, though, that it would not meddle in the polls, as this is the mandate of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Lawyer Joseph Frederick Calulut, PDEA-Cordillera information officer, said its narco-politics list includes the names of some barangay officials. But since it has not received any guidance pertaining to barangay officials intending to be candidates in the May elections, the agency would go on with its regular mandate.
Calulut said PDEA-Cordillera would continue to monitor and validate the names of persons included in the list provided them by the PDEA national office.
“We will continue to operate and validate those in the list to find out their involvement in illegal drugs,” he said.
Calulut explained that being on the list does not attach a criminal liability, the reason the law enforcers are validating the names.
He said records show there were some incumbent and former barangay officials arrested for their involvement in illegal drugs, but for the upcoming election, PDEA-Cordillera has no authority over those who would file their certificates of candidacy (COC) despite their inclusion in the list of “narco-politicians”.
He said if someone in the list files a COC, the person could not be prevented from running, as his or her inclusion in the list still requires validation.
But it would be a different story if the person is arrested for any acts violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Law of 2002, he pointed out.
“At present, the barangay election is still a go, unless Congress passes a law postponing it again,” Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Cordillera Regional Director Marlo Iringan said.
Lawyer Julius Torres, Comelec Cordillera regional director, said the filing of candidacy would be from April 14 to 20 and the election would be on May 14.
Based on election rules, a person interested to file his COC for the barangay polls will simply fill-up the form and have it received by the Comelec office concerned. Once elected to office, they will only be required to submit their Statement of Contribution and Expenditures (SOCE) and a drug test will not be required to be submitted.
“The court had already declared unconstitutional the requirement of a drug testing for candidates for an election nor after winning an election,” Torres said. PNA / ABN
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