Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte released a new “narco list” yesterday, that is a list of politicians with alleged links to the drug trade.
The list that was revealed during a speech in Davao City consists of 46 local officials from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, reports state.
During the public outing, Duterte even read some names off the list out loud, including three congressmen, 33 mayors, eight vice mayors, a board member, and a former mayor, the Manila Bulletin reported.
He said administrative cases have been filed against these officials by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) at the Office of the Ombudsman, according to ABS-CBN news.
However, Duterte only announced the names of those who are already facing cases, saying that those have been “somewhat validated.”
The president expressed trust for the authorities in charge of the narco list during his speech.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said that the list came from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and was validated by a group called the Interagency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD). ICAD members include officials from the PDEA, police, military, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), ABS-CBN News reported.
DILG Undersecretary Martin Diño told Bombo Radyo that incumbent officials who are on the list will, for now, keep their seats, despite the cases filed against them.
Duterte also said he released the list because the public deserved to know.
“Remember that public office is a public trust. An official’s right to privacy is not absolute and there is a compelling reason to prioritize the interest of the state and the people,” he said.
This new narco list came just two weeks before the start of the campaign period for local officials on March 29.
Duterte said that he did not release the list to influence the results of the upcoming midterm elections.
“I’m not really interested in releasing it before or after elections because I do not have the slightest intention to hurt anybody or to be a cause the failure of an election of a certain one who wants to serve the public,” he said.
Still, many have been against making the list public ever since the government announced that it would.
This includes the Commission on Human Rights, which said that revealing the list violated the constitutionally-guaranteed right that a suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
In 2016, just a few months into his presidency, Duterte read aloud a similar list of politicians and cops allegedly linked to the drug trade. He also revealed an updated version of this in August 2017.