Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has dared the Duterte administration to file criminal charges against erring officials who it purported to be involved with illegal drug trade than shaming them ahead of the campaign period for local bets on March 29.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the present government, said the planned release of the so-called narco-list disregards due process and violates the Constitutionally-guaranteed right of any accused to presumption of innocence.
“Bakit hanggang ngayon hindi pa rin nila makasuhan yung mga tunay na narcopoliticians? Hanggang lista-lista lang sila at mukhang ‘naming and shaming’ lang ang mga kaya nilang gawin,” she said in a statement.
Last March 2, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año reportedly confirmed that the supposed narco-list will be released before the local election campaign period, which starts on March 29.
While Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino admitted he prefers to file charges against officials purportedly involved with narcotics, he maintained that he would defer to Mr. Duterte’s decision on the matter.
Malacañang is reportedly in favor of releasing the narco-list despite nationwide criticism about the decision. Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo reasoned it would help Filipinos to decide who to vote for in the upcoming polls.
The former justice secretary said she is a living proof that Mr. Duterte and his henchmen only targets the government’s critics and remains remarkably indifferent in running after allied politicians who are involved in illegal drugs.
“[Ako], na wala talagang kinalaman sa iligal na droga, ang bilis nilang nag-imbento ng mga kaso, bukod sa matinding ‘shaming’ na ginawa at patuloy na ginagawa sakin. What a farce!,” she said.
De Lima, who has been constantly subjected to unsubstantiated accusations levelled against her by Mr. Duterte, is facing three counts of politically-motivated trumped-up drug charges fabricated by the government. Her illegal arrest and detention resulted from her vocal criticism of the administration’s bloody war on drugs and her move to initiate a Senate investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country under the leadership of Mr. Duterte. In 2018, PDEA released a list of some 200 barangay officials who were allegedly involved in illegal drugs ahead of the village polls. At least five local chief executives tagged in illegal drugs were killed afterwards.