MANILA - The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency is set to file charges against 207 barangay officials who are in President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called "narco-list" or drug watch list.
In a press briefing, PDEA chief Aaron Aquino said the narco-list, which has been validated by 4 government agencies, names 90 village captains and 117 councilors as having alleged links to illegal drugs.
Seventy of the alleged narco-officials, he said, are from Bicol.
PDEA will file charges against the officials "in a week or 2," Aquino said.
The agency is also validating allegations that 274 other local executives are involved in the drug trade, he said.
The Commission on Human Rights has warned that tagging individuals as narco-officials may violate their rights to privacy and presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
Aquino rejected this criticism, saying the need to protect the public and curtail corruption in government trumps an individual's right to privacy.
"In several decisions on cases, the Supreme Court affirmed that the right to privacy is not absolute when there is compelling reason to prioritize the interest of the state," Aquino told reporters.
"The disclosure of valuable and valid information is needed to curtail and minimize corruption amongst officials of the government, to promote the highest standard of honesty in public service and to elevate morality in public administration," he added.
NOT A HIT LIST
Aquino also denied that the document will serve as a "hit list" for clandestine killings.
"The PNP (Philippine National Police) will make assurance to the public that these people should also be given, somehow, protection; that nobody will harm them," he said.
"When I say protected, let's be clear, there will be no EJKs (extra judicial killings. This will not serve as a hit list," he added.
PDEA data showed that as of March 20, 2018, 4,075 drug-linked individuals have been killed while 91,704 anti-illegal drug operations have been carried out since Duterte assumed office in July 2016.
Government data further showed that out of the total 2,467 drug-related homicide incidents recorded, 1,752 are still under investigation, while 715 have been solved.
Baring the list will encourage residents to give evidence against alleged officials, said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
The list will also discourage voters from supporting officials with alleged ties to the narcotics trade in the May 14 barangay elections, added Dangerous Drugs Board chairman Catalino Cuy.
"This is the chance, opportunity for the public to get rid of this people. It's very important that the public, voters are aware doon sa kandidato na iboboto nila," he said.