Senators and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday spoke out against releasing a “narco list” of politicians
allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade, particularly if it is without evidence and if it comes out before the May elections.
“Making it public is unjust and unfair to those who may be delisted later, or worse, after the elections” said Senator Panfilo Lacson, noting that such a list could be used to smear candidates running for office in May.
“This has happened before and it could happen again,” he said.
Senator Richard Gordon added that producing such a list could be a basis for filing a libel case against the government officials responsible.
Both senators were reacting to a plan by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano to release the names of politicians appearing on the narco list as a guide for voters.
But Lacson said such a list should be used only for intelligence purposes and to help law enforcement build up a case.
He said this has the end view of filing appropriate criminal charges against those on the list.
Gordon raised due process concerns.
“If they have evidence, they can file a case,” he said.
Earlier, DILG Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya said the agency was just waiting for the go-signal of President Rodrigo Duterte
before releasing the list. Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President would allow the release of the list as long as it has been verified.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, meanwhile, said it would be unfair to release the list during the election period as this would constitute negative campaigning.
In an interview on radio dzBB, Guanzon urged the DILG and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to file cases against the politicians who are involved in drug trade instead of releasing the list.
She added that if the DILG cannot prove its charges, publishing the list could be considered libel.
READ: ‘Duterte has power over narco-list’