DESPITE claims that money from illegal drugs could have been used to finance the campaign of some local politicians and that some of them are directly involved in the illicit trade, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea) said there are simply no reliable data to back up these allegations.
In fact, Pdea Public Information Office (PIO) chief Glen Malapad said they do not have hard evidence against top government officials who are said to be involved in the drug trade.
He, however, added hat they have arrested 69 elected government officials who hold lower posts from January 2015 to January 2016.
“We cannot accuse anybody without evidence. We are bound to violate individual rights if we based our accusations on plain assumptions,” Malapad told The Manila Times.
This paper reported last week that at least one governor and a few congressmen were into the drug trade, quoting former PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago.
Santiago and Sen. Grace Poe, head of the Senate committee on illegal drugs, claimed narco-politics threatens the country’s political environment.
Santiago also disclosed that he had sent a full report on the involvement of the public figures to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin as early as 2010, before he left PDEA.
“I surmise Malacanang already has a copy of my report. It contained everything, including the who’s who in the drug industry. The highest government officials included in my report were a governor and some active lawmakers from Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon,” he told The Manila Times.
He said he brought his report to Gazmin as he was about to be replaced at PDEA.
But Malapad said they “can only attribute the presence of narco-politics in the country to the government officials particularly barangay (village) officials and employees arrested by PDEA and those charged in court for drug-related offenses.”
“We have no data to gauge regarding how serious is the threat of narco-politics in the country… We have no data or we did not receive any reports regarding the claims whether the drug money has reached the government or if there are national officials who are on the payroll of drug lords,” he added.
Poe said nobody can deny the fact that “government officials themselves are involved in the illegal drug trade.”
“But definitely, from year on end, we need to be able to expose the names of those people. And I would probably do so,” she added.
Malapad admitted that drug traffickers are better equipped than them and that the archipelagic nature of the Philippines makes it more difficult for them to run after these criminals.
“The present scenario indicates that the agency is faced by more equipped and advanced adversaries in terms of financial, technological and logistical aspects. In spite of these challenges, we are positive that the drug problem can be eradicated but we cannot fight alone. We need cooperation among local and international drug enforcement agencies, and of course the participation and support of the stakeholders which are deemed important in defeating the drug menace,” he pointed out.
“The archipelagic set-up of the Philippines is exploited by traffickers to transport illegal drugs and controlled precursors and essential chemicals into the country. The international and local airports and seaports, mail, and parcel services and the vast expanse of coastline are being utilized as entry and exit points,” Malapad explained.
He said three major illegal drugs dominate the country’s drug scene.
The main drug of abuse is methamphetamine hydrochloride or locally known as shabu.
The second is marijuana, while the third is methylenedioxy methamphetamine (MDMA) or “Ecstasy,” which is popular among the wealthy.