Denting the credibility of the PDEA list

by Vic Sumalinog

 

OUR FAVORABLE position on the issue of the disclosure of the list of barangay officials engaged, one way or another, in the illegal drug trade remains. That is, have the list released to the media or posted in strategic places in the thousands of barangays in the whole country. And since Monday last week the list was already out.We based our position on the ground that the voting populace deserves the right to be guided accordingly in making learned choices of officials they want to lead their respective barangays. In other words, if any one running for office in the villages is already suspected of engaging in the illegal drug trade then it becomes the voter’s personal concern if he/she still chooses that or those candidates.

But from the way the law enforcement agencies working on the validation of the persons included in the list gathered details on the barangay officials alleged to be in the illegal drug activities, we cannot blame human rights advocates from entertaining fears that the monitoring and confirmation of the officials’ activities are not done properly.

This is one glaring example of inconsistency in the report. During the press conference in the National Capital Region Monday last week held jointly by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the DILG, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Board, and the chair of the House Committee on Illegal Drugs, PDEA national director Aaron Aquino showed a breakdown of the list by region. And nowhere did we see Southern Mindanao or the Davao Region as one of those who have barangay officials in the list.

However, a report published in Davao’s leading dailies and attributing as source the same PDEA list, says that three Davao Region barangay officials are included in the list. So, how come Director Aquino did not include Southern Mindanao as one of the regions with barangay officials known to be in the illegal drug activities? Is he trying to please the President who is from the same region?

Now we cannot help but doubt the intelligence of the member/s of the police intelligence community who were tasked to validate the correctness of the inclusion of the names of the Davao Region barangay officials.

Imagine not knowing what province two of the barangays mentioned belong! In the case of that barangay captain included in the list the validating team got it right; Barangay Macangao, Lupon is part of Davao Oriental Province.

However, the barangays of the two Kagawads named in the list by the PDEA are all in municipalities belonging to the newly created province of Davao Occidental.

Of course it is a different story if there were some kind of typographical errors in the encoding of the list. But just the same; a serious review of the list by proper authorities could have exposed the mistake. Now, the errors are likely to snowball suspicion on the credibility of the list revealed by the PDEA.

That, definitely, is not good for the government.

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Whoever thought of, and eventually convinced the leadership of Davao City to build its own warehouse to serve as depository of important local government documents and ballot boxes, must be commended for such a novel idea.

Yes, for how many years had the city been renting a privately owned building to house important files of documents concerning city transactions? And to think that according to reports quoting  a top-ranked City Treasurer’s Office executive the monthly rent is a whooping P16,000! Wow, that’s a lot of money that the city could have paid to at least two “endo” or job order workers a month.

But here comes this laudable project of constructing a city-owned building that would safe-keep the various important documents serving as proofs of local government transactions.

Considering the kind of city Davao is, the volume of transactions that the local government is undertaking all those years until today, as well as in the years ahead, it is only ideal that the city should have its own durable, secure, and safe warehouse. It must not be the kind of building where access can be made easy by some unscrupulous employees of the office that would be charged to manage it.

Again we take our hat off to the proponent of the project and of course to the leadership of the city who concurred with the importance of having such warehouse.



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