MANILA – Malacañang on Monday defended the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s (PDEA) move to release the list of barangay officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the list was “released to help guide voters to choose wisely.”
Roque had earlier asked the public not to vote those included in the narco-list.
The list was released ahead of the May 14 barangay polls.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said they made the list public upon Duterte's orders. He said the "narco list" had been validated by 4 law enforcement agencies.
He said out of the 207 in the "narco list," 117 are barangay kagawads (councilmen) 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 court decides on the case, the alleged involvement of these officials in the illegal drug trade remains an accusation.
PDEA released the list despite an earlier statement by the President that it was “not yet” the time to do so.
Roque, however, pointed out that the President may have been tired at the time, as he had just arrived from a flight from Singapore, and misheard the question and gave a different answer.