Rebels may link innocent officials to drugs, watchdog warns


Posted at Jul 10 2016 04:07 PM

A policeman shows confiscated methamphetamine, known locally as Shabu, along with illegal firearms seized from suspected drug pushers during an operation by the police in Quiapo, Manila on July 3, 2016. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA - By mimicking President Rodrigo Duterte's move to name suspected drug criminals, leftist rebels may retaliate against their political foes and implicate innocent officials, a watchdog group warned Sunday.

Jo Perez, spokesperson of the Filipino Alliance for Transparency and Empowerment (FATE), said they have received reports that some members of the National Democratic Front (NDF) have tagged local officials in the narcotics trade after they refused to pay revolutionary tax.

"It's simply a case of extortion. Other NDF have also resorted to implicating innocent officials," Perez said.

Duterte, who has vowed a ruthless war on drugs and crime, publicly branded five former and current police directors as drug coddlers last Tuesday.

(READ: Duterte links 5 top cops to drug trade)

On Friday, the President presented a diagram of drug syndicate leaders in the Philippines, allegedly including some local officials.

The FATE, however, warned that the government should review the list and "make sure that they have solid evidence to back their allegation. Otherwise, it could spiral out of control."

Perez also warned that Duterte's plans to identify more drug-tainted officials could endanger the lives of the accused and their families. "It's easy to accuse but to prove it is another story."

About 10 criminal suspects had been reportedly killed by police or suspected vigilantes each day since Duterte took his oath of office.

Forty-three were killed as part of police operations, while 29 others, five of them yet to be identified, were victims of "vigilante-style killings."

Among the dead was a policeman found tied to a post Thursday with a cardboard sign hanging from his chest that accused him of being a "police drug pusher."

READ: Duterte crime war 'out of control': critics