By Genalyn D. Kabiling
Malacañang won’t stop Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Martin Diño from seeking a list of suspected drug offenders in all barangays nationwide.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque agreed that Diño is simply doing his job but reminded the Department of Interior and Local Government to conduct the necessary investigation to verify the drug allegations against certain persons.
“Is there anything wrong in asking for a list? There is absolutely nothing wrong for as long as it will entail conduct of an investigation to verify the information,” Roque said during a Palace news conference.
“It’s just a request to come up with names so they could conduct investigations. It always begins with an investigation,” he added.
Roque also argued that the public has the right to know who among the members of their communities are allegedly involved in illegal drug trade.
“What’s wrong with that? Because people should know by way of general reputation who are involved in drugs. I think communities know but it’s not enough for anything, you have to investigate on the basis of these leads,” he said.
On concerns some drug-linked barangay officials are the ones submitting the drug list to the DILG, Roque said Diño should pursue this other lead and look into the government’s “data bank” on officials with suspected connection with the drug trade.
If officials are implicated in illegal drugs, he said administrative and criminal cases could be filed against them.
Diño had earlier said he would ask barangay officials to submit a list of drug personalities in their areas of responsibility. He plans to impose sanctions if the barangay officials fail to comply.
President Duterte recently appointed Diño as DILG Undersecretary more than three months after he was removed as chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.