MANILA - The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday said it will start filing charges against barangay officials who are in the government's "drugs watchlist."
DILG Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya said charges will be filed against listed officials who failed to organize their Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC).
He added that this is an order from DILG officer-in-charge Eduardo Año .
"Pag 'yung barangay official ay nasa drugs watchlist at hindi pa niya inoorganisa ang BADAC niya—especially kapitan siya—sasampahan siya ng kaukulang kaso ng DILG," he told reporters.
Undersecretary for barangay affairs Martin Diño and Assistant Secretary for External and Legislative Affairs Ricojudge Echiverri will decide who will be charged, said Malaya.
He said filing charges is better than just releasing the names of barangay officials in the narco list. He stressed that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is still validating the information.
"Kahit gusto man po ng DILG na ilabas ang listahang ito, since it is a document that it is to be validated by PDEA—and PDEA being the lead agency—it has to come from them," Malaya said.
The DILG has no dates yet on when to file the cases but assured the public that they are "expediting" the process. The Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections is on May 14.
Data from the PDEA showed that 289 barangay officials, including 143 chairmen and 146 councilors, are allegedly involved in the drug trade.
President Rodrigo Duterte previously claimed that 40% of all the barangay captains in the country are involved in the illegal drug trade.
Names in the narco-list came from a mix of citizen reports and information from barangay officials, among others, a 2016 Reuters report revealed.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa said barangay officials themselves are in the forefront of the drug war.
"They are on the forefront of this fight," Dela Rosa said. "They can identify the drug users and pushers in their barangays. They know everyone."
Citing interviews with local police, residents and local officials, the report said barangay leaders, known as "captains," have been instrumental in drawing up the lists.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) earlier reiterated that there is no law requiring electoral candidates to take mandatory drug tests.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez explained that even if the poll body issues a resolution on the matter, it still could not require candidates to undergo mandatory drug testing.