‘OUTRAGEOUS ATTEMPT’ | Human rights group slams release of ‘narco-list’

4 days ago

(MARCH 15, 2019) – A human rights group on Friday slammed the release of a fresh ‘narco-list’ implicating several local politicians in the illegal drug trade.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself bared a portion of the controversial list in a command conference in Davao City on Thursday.

He made a roll call of 35 mayors, seven vice mayors, three congressmen and a provincial board member, who are now facing administrative charges due to their alleged involvement in illegal drugs.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) took the move for an “outrageous attempt” to influence the upcoming local elections.

“Duterte’s list deprives those named of due process and the presumption of innocence. If the government really has evidence against them, they should be arrested, charged and tried, not be the target of administrative cases by an agency – the interior department – that is under the office of the president,” researcher for HRW Asia Division Carlos Conde said in a statement.

Conde also warned that the narco-list may impose danger to the personalities mentioned.

“It’s a veritable hit list in his (Duterte) ‘drug war,’ as past politicians accused of drug involvement all too often end up being shot dead by the police,” Conde said.

Akbayan Party-list Representative Tom Villarin said the tagging of alleged narco-politicians could constitute an impeachable offense “for culpable violation of the Constitution.”

“As President of the republic, Duterte’s powers are not absolute nor can he justify putting the state in order by infringing on an individual’s right to due process and presumption of innocence,” he said in a statement.

“While the right to privacy is not absolute, there is no compelling reason for the state to violate it as we have a functioning court system where charges can be filed against these individuals.”

So far, at least four politicians implicated in the list have come forward to clear their names.

READ ALSO: NOT INVOLVED | Politicians in Duterte narco-list deny drug involvement

Duterte said more alleged narco-politicians were listed but their involvement were yet to be validated.

The Dangerous Drugs Board earlier announced its plan to release a narco-list before the elections so that voters will have an idea on the supposed background of candidates in their areas.