Palace sees the need to release narco list

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DAVAO CITY (March 6)– The government sees the need to release the names of politicians involved in the illegal drug trade in the country, Malacañang reaffirmed on Monday, March 4. 

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo reiterated this in a Palace press briefing, saying the Constitution guarantees the Filipino people the right to information, including those politicians involved in prohibited drugs. 

“You really have to balance iyong duty ng gobyerno na ipaalam sa taumbayan iyong kailangang malaman nila kasi under the Constitution, the right to information is enshrined. Tungkulin ng gobyerno iyan,” he said. 

As the midterm election draws near, it is within the competence of the police authorities and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) whether to release another list of narco politicians. “ Such task may be considered by them under their constitutional duty,” Secretary Panelo added. 

“The President, if you recall, had already released the list. So logically he will not oppose it,” Secretary Panelo said. 

“From the point of view of the voters, it will also be unfair if you do not tell them exactly your investigation relative to those involved in the drug industry. And if they are elected and then suddenly their place is contaminated with drugs, they will blame the government,” he added. 

But while this may be the case, the Palace official explained that those in the list are still presumed innocent until proven guilty. 

“Now, the idea of presenting the list by DILG and PDEA is to tell the electorate on the kind of candidates that they will choose from, and I think it will help them,” Sec. Panelo said. 

“[N]ow, to the fear that it may destroy the presumption of innocence, to my mind there is a judicial remedy for that. If you feel that you have been libeled, you can always go to the courts,” he added. 

This, however, will not just be a shame campaign by the government as the list will be vetted and double checked, Panelo assured. 

“Definitely the Palace will make it a point that the list submitted to it has been validated by the agency submitting the same,” he said. 

If by any chance, the person in the list turns out to be a mistaken identity, the President’s spokesperson said there is recourse under the law which the person can undertake, including filing a case in court.

“They can file a case if they feel they have been libeled. Kaya nga tayo may batas eh. Me as a lawyer mas gusto ko iyong ilabas [ang list] para I can immediately respond to it and magawan ko ng paglilinis ang name ng client ko,” he stressed-NewsLine.ph

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