A Palace spokesman denied Wednesday that the Duterte administration is engaging in trial by publicity after saying that several local executives have links to illegal drugs.
This is after Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said President Duterte will name 27 local officials who have alleged connections to drug rings.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the government is contacting local executives suspected of links to the illicit drug trade so that they can have the chance to clear their names.
"The fact that [they have] been named simply states that the process has begun. In other words, they will be contacted, they will be addressed, and they should respond accordingly," he said.
"It is not trial by publicity. It is simply - their attention is being called."
Abella said that even if the officials are named, it does not necessarily mean that they are positively linked to the drug trade.
"It simply means that they have been identified as being linked with drug trafficking," he said.
The spokesman said it is President Rodrigo Duterte's prerogative to name them.
Duterte earlier ordered Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and his son Kerwin Espinosa to immediately surrender after they were linked to illegal drugs.
"'Yung katulad nung nangyayari nga na ina-address sila kasi kumbaga, parang pinapaalam sa ilang tao na alam na yung kanilang kalagayan. They’re being asked to respond accordingly. We’ll just wait for them to respond," Abella said.
Abella said necessary sanctions will be imposed if they are found guilty.
"If and when [links are found], DILG will respond in time. In other words, an appropriate response from the DILG will be demanded," he said.
Abella said the officials can surrender to the President "as they see fit."
He added Duterte gave no ultimatum on the local chiefs but expects a quick response from them.
"Wala naming time line na nasabi except pag na-address ka na, it is expected that you respond promptly," he said.