NARCO-POLITICIANS WHO RAN SHOULD HAVE BEEN KEPT UNDER TIGHT WATCH - GORDON
With President Rodrigo R. Duterte making public, two months ahead of the May 13 midterm polls, his third narco-list composed of 46 politicians with alleged links to illegal drugs, Senator Richard J. Gordon said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and other concerned agencies should have kept a tight watch on the 36 people on the list who ran for various positions.
"With the narco-politicians already identified ahead of the elections, the PDEA should have conducted a tight watch on them. Kung nakalagay na sila sa narco-list, di ba dapat ang PDEA, binantayan na sila? Ang AMLC at ang Comelec dapat binantayan kung gagamit ng pera yan." Gordon stressed.
The PDEA has reported that out of the 46 local officials accused by Duterte of being involved in the illegal drug trade, 36 ran for various local positions and 26 of them won. The winners tagged in the narco list include 18 mayors, three vice mayors, two congressmen, one vice governor, one provincial board member, and one councilor. Six of them were said to be in Calabarzon, while four were in ARMM and Central Luzon.
Gordon noted that because the narco-politicians were not placed under watch, there were inordinate, scandalous, bare-faced vote-buying in their areas using the large amounts of drug money at their disposal.
"The AMLC should have been on the alert for large-scale withdrawals during the election period. The Comelec should have watched out for massive vote-buying because where there are massive vote-buying, cash was used. Thousands of pesos were distributed, with millions of drug money flooding in areas where the narco-politicians ran, such as in Zambales," he said.
The chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee stressed that the narco-politicians were desperate to seek protection from harassment and for their illegal which is why they made sure that they would be able to hold sway in their areas by fielding family members to various positions and by forging alliances with local officials in other cities and municipalities who may also be desperate to seek protection for their own corrupt practices.
"They need positions to protect them, just like some officials use their office to protect their graft and corruption. Now, these people have proven that with just money, they can win, they can buy the Comelec, they can buy votes. Anong rason, kailangang manalo sila dahil yun ang gagawin nilang proteksyon para hindi sila ma-harass, they will now have influence," Gordon said.
"For example in Zambales, the narco-politician identified by the President was Khonghun who won four seats. And there was rampant vote-buying from Subic to Sta. Cruz and Olongapo City. Because of that, it is dangerous for us now because Zambales is a coastline province right next to Scarborough Shoals. It would be so easy to bring in drugs. Zambales and other strategic areas that are conducive for drug smuggling, could become part of a cartel, just like the Cali cartel," he added.