THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-6) said it is investigating claims that money from the illegal drug trade may have been used in the May 14, 2018 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls.
PDEA-6 regional director Wardley Getalla said they will base their probe on the list of village officials with alleged links to the drug trade. The anti-illegal drugs agency will also check if relatives of the alleged narco-officials ran and won in the elections.
“Actually we have already received reports as to such, that is why we will focus our investigation whether there were candidates who used drug money or proceeds from illegal drugs,” he said.
PDEA is coordinating with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the final and official result of the elections.
A total of 105 barangay officials in Western Visayas are on the PDEA drug list, thus under surveillance by the agency and the PNP.
PDEA-6 earlier confirmed the inclusion in the drug list of village chief Gemma Calzado of Kasing-Kasing, Molo, Iloilo City, who was elected No. 1 kagawad of the village.
Getalla said he also met with Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director Chief Supt. Cesar Hawthorne Binag on May 15 to discuss their monitoring of the personalities on the drug list.
He said that while they respect the result of the election, he said they continue with their investigation and monitoring as “victory in the election will not guarantee these officials immunity from investigation.”
“Their victory in the election will not mean the end of the investigation. We continue in gathering evidence against them for the proper filing of cases,” he said.
Meanwhile, Binag said their intelligence operations against alleged narco-officials continue.
“We are watching them,” he said.
Comelec-6 acting regional director Tomas Valera said while they do not have records of narco-politicians who participated in the recent election, he is dismayed by the re-election of officials who were investigated for allegedly coddling the illegal drug trade.
“If that is true, it is deplorable that the people still elected those that are linked to the drug trade. We cannot speculate on the motives of the individual voters, why they voted (that way). The election depends on what the public perceives it to be,” he said.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG-6) regional director Anthony Nuyda said they leave it to the PDEA and PNP to file appropriate charges against barangay officials in the drug list.
“They are doing something about it and they are planning to institute some legal actions. In fact, there are barangays officials, not from Western Visayas, who were already charged for failure to organize their barangay anti-drug abuse councils,” Nuyda said.