MANILA (UPDATE) - There is nothing wrong with President Rodrigo Duterte’s release of a new 'narco-list' just two months before the midterm elections, opposition senatorial candidate Mar Roxas said Saturday.
Roxas, who as former Interior Secretary once oversaw local government affairs, described Duterte's public naming of local officials with alleged links to the illegal drug trade as a "statement of fact."
Those named, among them reelectionists, had claimed that politics was behind the release of the new list.
“Para sa akin naman, basta may kaso then it is just a statement of fact,” Roxas told reporters on the sidelines of his market campaign in Tandang Sora, Quezon City.
(For me, as long as cases were filed, then it is just a statement of fact.)
“Ang importante may kaso hindi 'yung sabi-sabi lang or intel-intel kuno lang,” said Roxas, who was among Duterte’s rivals in the 2016 presidential elections.
(What is important is that cases were filed and it was not based only on hearsay or alleged intelligence information.)
DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya earlier said it was “unfair” to label the narco-list collated by his department as a “political move.”
"It would be unfair for them to ascribe bad intentions on our part because this was not done for politics," Malaya told ANC.
"We expect that those who are implicated here would rebut and refute the allegations in the proper venue," he said.
Among those on the list were 8 officials running under the banner of Duterte’s ruling PDP-Laban.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Saturday took aim at Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin for the latter's remark that the list released by Duterte could constitute an impeachable offense for culpable violation of the Constitution.
“For the legal education of Rep. Villarin, the appropriate charges have already been filed against the personalities contained in the list before the Office of the Ombudsman affording them their right to due process and an opportunity to clear their names before competent authorities,” Panelo said in a statement.
He said “such act cannot be considered a legal transgression, and even more so, an impeachable offense”.
In a statement Friday, Villarin said releasing the narco-list violates the right to due process and presumption of innocence.
“As President of the republic, Duterte’s powers are not absolute nor can he justify putting the state in order by infringing on an individual’s right to due process and presumption of innocence,” Villarin said.
Panelo said the drug menace has evolved into a national security problem as it threatens to destroy the very foundation of society and that “the President as head of the state is constitutionally commanded to serve and protect the nation.”
“Individual rights are subordinate to the state’s right to protect itself from its enemies that seek to destroy it. The people’s right to safety prevails over the individual rights of persons piercing and destroying the security net that protects the citizenry,” said Panelo.
He added that failure of the President to perform his constitutional duty of serving and protecting the people would make him liable to impeachment for such omission is culpable violation of the Constitution and a betrayal of the public trust.