Suspected drug personalities may have successfully filed certificates of candidacy, campaigned and secured seats in barangay offices during the village and youth council polls last month, but they are not yet off the hook.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde told Bohol media during his command visit last week that monitoring operations on incumbent and newly elected barangay officials suspected of being involved in the illegal drug trade are still ongoing.
“What we can do is monitor them and build a case against them and gather evidence kung talagang mayroon at dun siguro, pwede na natin silang kasuhan,” said Albayalde.
According to Albayalde, the PNP is working with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other agencies in pinpointing drug-linked barangay officials and gathering evidence against those who are already in their watchlists.
“It’s up to the DILG kung ano talaga gagawin nila. Pero as of now, nasa watchlist na yung mga yun. Hindi naman kasi warrant of arrest pero talagang ebidensiya yun ang kailangan [to] be enough para tanggalin sila sa pwesto,” he said.
Abayalde was in Bohol on Friday last week for a quick visit at Camp Dagohoy and some of the province’s police stations.
Earlier this month, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) confirmed that some individuals who are listed in their drug watchlist won government seats in the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and barangay polls last month.
“Naay mga napili, naay wa mi dagan, naay na re-elected ug naa puy mga bag-ong [kandidato] migawas na dati sa atong radar na mi-dagan ‘nya mi daog,” said PDEA agent Nicholas Gomez.
According to Gomez, there have also been barangay officials in Bohol involved in illegal drug activities even before the May elections, contrary to the list of drug-linked village chiefs and councilors released by the PDEA’s head office in late April.
“Kadtong gipagawas gikan to sa inter-agency task force ug dili to sa PDEA, sa tinood lang nga kung kame dinhi sa PDEA Bohol ang panut-on, naa g‘yud tay mapili nga mga barangay officials,” said Gomez.
The local law enforcement official explained that the list released by the PDEA was compiled and approved by an inter-agency intelligence task force which also includes the police and military.
“Kadtong maong list, dili lang to gikan sa PDEA, naa ta’y gitawag na inter-agency intelligence task force nga naglangkob sa Intelligence Directorate sa PNP, PDEA, Intelligence Service sa Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency,” he said.
Gomez noted that monitoring operations against officials linked to illegal drug activities are ongoing.
On April 30, the PDEA released its so-called narco-list of barangay officials.
The list did not include any official from Bohol, and Boholanos were incredulous.
“Maayo pagkalaba sa listahan… kadto lang nadakpan sa Calape di na lang to kwentahon,” said netizen Rekl Amador through a comment on the inter-agency arco-list which was posted by the Chronicle on Facebook.
The commenter was apparently pertaining to Euleterio Luega, a barangay councilor of Calape who was arrested for drugs right before he was about to file his certificate of candidacy in April.
In the same thread, former Talibon vice mayor Epifanio Quimson said that he hopes that barangay officials linked to drugs should use their non-inclusion in the list as a chance to end their involvement in narcotics trade.
“Pasalamat lang pod sila nga wala maapil sa listahan sa PDEA ug hinaot unta nga moundang na sila aron manindot ang kaugmaon natong tanan,” he said.