But CHR warns that can­di­dates can­not be dis­qual­i­fied based on sus­pi­cion

Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - by IN­QUIRER.net, Morex­ette Marie B. Er­ram and Delta Derycka Leti­gio

The Depart­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Govern­ment (DILG) an­nounced on Fri­day (Oc­to­ber 12) they will sub­mit a copy of the so-called “narco-list” to the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions (Com­elec).

In what seemed to be a last-ditch ef­fort on their hopes to dis­qual­ify can­di­dates who are ac­cused to

have links in the il­le­gal drug trade from the May 2019 midterm elec­tions, DILG spokesper­son Jonathan Malaya said they plan to sub­mit the copy this Wed­nes­day, when the fil­ing of the cer­tifi­cate of can­di­dacy (COCs) will be closed.

Com­elec, in turn, said they will re­view the DILG’s pro­posal to dis­qual­ify all can­di­dates in­cluded in the so-called “narco-list”.

“As chair­man, I in­cluded it in yes­ter­day’s agenda at the en banc at inire­fer po namin sa [and we re­ferred it to the] law depart­ment [of the Com­elec] for fur­ther study,” Com­elec chair Sher­iff Abas said in a press brief­ing on Fri­day (Oc­to­ber 12).

A news re­port by state-run me­dia Peo­ple’s Tele­vi­sion quoted Malaya to have given Com­elec dis­cre­tion to de­cide on their agency’s pro­posal.

“We would want them to be dis­qual­i­fied. But there are some le­gal im­ped­i­ments kasi as men­tioned al­ready by some election lawyers. So, in so far as we’re con­cerned, we would like the pub­lic to be in­formed of the list, we would like them to know that these are those with pend­ing cases,” the re­port said, quot­ing Malaya.

Due process

DILG of­fi­cer-in-charge, Usec. Ed­uardo Año, first an­nounced his depart­ment’s pro­posal to dis­qual­ify narco-politi­cians from seek­ing an elec­tive po­si­tion last Oc­to­ber 3.

Mean­while, Abas said he also re­ceived a let­ter from the Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency (PDEA) echo­ing Año’s pro­posal.

“Same yung prayer nila, kung pwede ma- dis­qual­ify yung nasa lis­ta­han [They have the same prayers, if we can dis­qual­ify those in the list],” he said.

Abas, how­ever, said that there should be a “bal­ance” if they will fol­low the sug­ges­tion of the DILG and PDEA.

He said there should be a due process in dis­quali- fy­ing can­di­dates, cit­ing that mere in­clu­sion in a list does not equate to be­ing dropped from the elec­tions.

“Sig­uro within a week ma -study ng law depart­ment and then ma­gre re­ply kami di­rectly to the DILG and PDEA [Maybe within a week, the law depart­ment will study it, and then we will re­ply di­rectly to the DILG and PDEA],” he added.

But the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights in Cen­tral Visayas (CHR- 7) cau­tioned pub­lic of­fi­cials that do­ing so would vi­o­late the law.

Lawyer Arvin Odron, CHR-7 di­rec­tor, said he has “high reser­va­tions” re­gard­ing the sug­ges­tion of the DILG for Com­elec to dis­qual­ify those in the so-called “narco-list.”

“The in­ten­tion is novel, good, and praise­wor­thy. I agree with that as we need law-abid­ing pub­lic ser­vants who are com­mit­ted to pro­tect the wel­fare of the peo­ple and not the one that will de­stroy it,” Odron told CEBU DAILY NEWS in a text mes­sage.

“But let us not for­get that we have rules and laws to fol­low. We are a govern­ment of laws and not of men, mean­ing, no one is above the law,” he added.

Odron also stressed the im­por­tance of due process in deal­ing with politi­cians who are ac­cused to have links in the il­le­gal drug trade.

“If Com­elec can­not dis­qual­ify those who were re­moved from of­fice, even if or­dered by the Om­buds­man, on the ba­sis that there is no fi­nal­ity yet, then how can one be dis­qual­i­fied sim­ply by mere sus­pi­cion?” ex­plained Odron.

No di­rec­tive

Of­fi­cials from the DILG-7, said they are yet to re­ceive a di­rec­tive from their na­tional of­fice.

The depart­ment’s act­ing re­gional di­rec­tor, Maria Lu­cino, said she has re­ceived in­for­ma­tion about DILG Usec. Ed­uardo Año’s pro­posal to the Com­elec but none of the re­gional of­fices was given any in­struc­tions re­gard­ing it.

“We sim­ply have to wait for what will hap­pen. The Com­elec al­ready said that they will ac­cept any can­di­date but we will see what will hap­pen,” said Lu­cino.

She said DILG-7 does not have a copy of the nar­col­ist, and she can­not yet de­ter­mine what pos­si­bil­i­ties may arise if the plans will push through.

In Cebu, the names of three lo­cal chief ex­ec­u­tives were in­cluded in the govern­ment’s narco-list. Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte also tagged them as drug pro­tec­tors shortly af­ter he was elected in 2016.

These are for­mer Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Daan­ban­tayan Mayor Vi­cente Loot, and the late Ronda town Mayor Mar­i­ano Blanco III. No drug cases were filed against any of them.

Rama, who has been at­tempt­ing to clear his name from the narco-list, said DILG and Com­elec should not pur­sue with their plans.

“They should never do that,” he told CDN in a sep­a­rate phone in­ter­view.

Rama will run for vice mayor of Cebu City un­der the Barug-PDP La­ban group.

He ini­tially wanted to chal­lenge his po­lit­i­cal ri­val, in­cum­bent city mayor To­mas Os­meña, but soon gave way to Edgar La­bella, who is cur­rently the city’s vice mayor.

Last March, Pres­i­dent Duterte granted Rama an au­di­ence, de­tails of which the lat­ter re­fused to di­vulge.

Rama said he is hope­ful that hav­ing his name in the narco-list would not af­fect his bid for the vice may­oralty race.

CDN tried to con­tact Loot but failed.



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