SOME barangay officials in Iloilo City who were tagged in the illegal drug trade survived the May 14, 2018 elections by securing fresh mandates.
Lady village chiefs (punong barangay) Remia Gregori of Bakhaw, Mandurriao and Kieth “Dabing” Espinosa of Monica-Blumentritt, City Proper survived hotly-contested races in their respective areas. Punong Barangay Nene Odicta, brother of slain suspected drug lord Melvin Odicta, is elected No. 1 kagawad (council member) of Tanza-Esperanza, City Proper.
Village chief Noemi Jablo of Desamparados, Jaro is not as fortunate.
Espinosa and Gregori were investigated by the City Council for allegedly turning a blind eye to the illegal drug trade of their family members. In the case of Espinosa, her husband Jesus “Jing-Jing” Espinosa Jr. was being linked to Melvin Odicta. Gregori, on the other hand, is the sister of another slain suspected drug lord, Richard Prevendido.
Jablo was also investigated by the council, but unlike Espinosa and Gregori, she was exonerated of any administrative liability.
Also, village chief Gemma Calzado of Kasing-Kasing, Molo, who was included in the narco-list of PDEA, won as No. 1 kagawad of their village.
All of them have denied, in one way or another, the accusations against them.
At face value, it seems that the issues lobbed at these village officials failed to erode the support of the voters. But will it save them from whatever move the government is doing to address the drug problem?
Not so, according to PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde.
A news item posted on GMA News Online cited Albayalde as saying that victory in the recent elections will not exempt the alleged narco-officials from Oplan Tokhang. Here’s the rest of the story:
Victory won’t exempt barangay execs on drug list from Tokhang
By Marlly Rome Bondoc
Barangay officials who won new terms as village officers despite being on the government’s narco list will be subjected to Oplan Tokhang, Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said on Tuesday.
Oplan Tokhang entails the police officers knocking on the doors of suspected drug personalities—barangay officials on the narco list, in this case—and pleading with them to stop their drug activities.
If the barangay officials will not heed to their call, the PNP will start its case build-up against them.
“The next that we do is sabi ko nga conduct case build-up, gather evidence kung talagang evidence warrants, we can apply search warrant against them,” Albayalde said at a news conference.
“Kaya nga importante dito is the validation, kung meron tayong makuhang ebidensya laban sa kanila, talagang kailangan magconduct tayo ng case build-up or intelligence build-up against these people,” he added.
“Hindi naman porket nanalo na sila, eh excused na sila kung talagang involved sila dito sa ilegal na droga,” Albayalde said.
Albayalde, however, said the PNP had yet to identify those winning candidates on the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s list of barangay officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
“Hindi pa, as of this time kasi yung mga napo-proclaim hindi pa 100 percent, we have 92,756 ang pumasok na naproklama and this includes the SK (Sangguniang Kabataan) elected officers already so sa mga barangays, we still do not know kung ilan tlaaga, ilang porsyento na yung natapos na bilang,” Albayalde said.
PDEA director general Aaron Aquino last month released to the public the list of barangay chairpersons and councilmen allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
Aquino said on the list were 90 barangay chairpersons and 117 members of barangay councils in Bicol, the Cordillera Administrative Region and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (GMA News/ http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/653449/victory-won-t-exempt-barangay-execs-on-drug-list-from-tokhang/story/)