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Sotto warns vs use of DDB drug list for polls

REMINDER Inmates stand next to a painting of President Duterte inside Manila City Jail, a reminder of the government’s priority on the war on drugs. —AFP

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday expressed misgivings about the plan of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), which he once headed, to release a list of “narcopoliticians” before the 2019 midterm elections, saying the roster could be “polluted” due to politics.

“There are other ways, not just to release a list, lock, stock and barrel, in a nationwide newspaper or announce the names,” Sotto said.

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DDB ‘mentality’

“First because the list may be polluted because it’s not validated. [Second], others may get wrongly dragged into it,” he told reporters.

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Sotto said he understood the rationale for the DDB’s plan, considering the agency’s zeal in apprehending persons involved in drugs.

“So even if it’s only suspicion, or the person is only a suspect, the decision is to make the list public,” Sotto said.

“That’s the mentality of the Dangerous Drugs Board. I cannot blame them for that. I used to be there, and I know the feeling,” he said.

But the Senate leader said publicizing the supposed narcolist could bring problems, especially at a sensitive time like an election.

Other purposes

“At this time when election is coming, it may be used for other purposes,” Sotto said.

“There is the other perspective that it may be used to attack others by saying, ‘This guy is involved, he’s on the list.’ What if the list is not validated? That’s the problem,” Sotto added.

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He suggested that antidrug authorities took a different approach, such as more on-the-ground campaigning.

On Monday, DDB chair Catalino Cuy said the release of the names of politicians implicated in illegal drug trafficking would help voters steer clear of these candidates.

He noted that his agency did a similar thing during the village and youth council elections in May.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has announced that the so-called narcolist identified 85 politicians, including mayors and vice mayors, vice governors and governors, and House members.

Click here for more elections stories.

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