MANILA - (UPDATED) The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Monday released the names of 207 barangay officials linked to the illegal drug trade ahead of the May 14 barangay polls.
PDEA Director Aaron Aquino said they made the list public upon the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte. He said the "narco list" has been validated by 4 law enforcement agencies.
He said out of the 207 in the "narco list," 117 are barangay kagawads while 90 are barangay chairmen. Most of the barangay officials are from the Bicol Region, he added.
The PDEA chief said they will file charges against these officials. But until the the court decides on the case, the alleged involvement of these officials in the illegal drug trade remains an accusation.
Meanwhile, some barangay chairmen in Manila included in the "narco list" denied accusations that they were involved in the illegal drug trade.
Marcelino Ortega of Barangay 199 in Tondo blamed his inclusion in the list to politics or mistaken identity. He showed photos to prove that through his efforts, drug suspects in their area surrendered.
"Inayos namin lahat ng mga personality sa akong barangay at aking kinausap hanggang sila'y nag-surrender," he said.
"Dito sa atin pagdating ng eleksiyon, maraming kung ano-anong ikakasira mo ibabato sa 'yo," he added.
ABS CBN News also sought the comment of other barangay chairmen in Manila allegedly involved in illegal drugs but failed to get their side.
Aileen Guidotong of Barangay 314 in Sta Cruz and Arnel Dungo of Barangay 255 in Tondo were not in their offices when ABS-CBN News came Monday. No one could tell about their whereabouts.
Meanwhile, PDEA chief Aquino said they are still validating information showing 274 village officials' alleged involvement in illegal drugs. The agency will also reveal these names to the public once they have been validated.-- with a report by Angel Movido and Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News