By Chito A. Chavez
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency yesterday released the names of 207 barangay officials involved in the illegal drugs trade.
The list which was released ahead of the May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan contained the names of 90 barangay chairmen and 117 barangay kagawads or councilmen.
The Bicol region has the highest number of barangay officials in the narco-list with 70 followed by the Cordillera Administrative Region and with 34 and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with 13.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said the release of the narco-list was approved by President Duterte. The PDEA, Philippine National Police, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency have validated the list to ensure accuracy and avoid suspicion of whitewash, he added.
Aquino said the alleged involvement of 214 other barangay officials in the illegal drugs trade is being validated.
The agency said it will reveal their names once this is validated.
He denied that the narco-list is a hit list and that its disclosure will become trial by publicity.
“There’s no truth that this will serve as a hit list,” Aquino said. “We want to be legitimate in our operations, we want our operations to be transparent.”
Aquino assured that the PNP and other units involved in anti-drug operations will “protect” those on the narco-list and assured that “nobody will harm them.”
As the list went through stringent validation, Aquino said they that they will push through with the filing of cases against them “in due time” or “in a week or two” with the Ombudsman.