By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan
MANILA – Around 430 barangay officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs are now under monitoring by the Philippine National Police (PNP), its chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda said on Thursday.
Acorda said some of these barangay officials are included in the PNP’s list of high-value individuals and street-level Individuals in the war against drugs.
“They are subject to intelligence operations. We are hoping that this will be reduced in the coming days. Hopefully, those involved would eventually stop. If not, they will be subject to police operations,” Acorda told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of the Buhay ay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan in private sector workplaces in Quezon City.
Acorda said these barangay officials have varying involvement in illegal drugs where some are pushers, some are protectors and others are financiers.
“But based on our update, there are more or less 430 barangay officials (involved in the illegal drug trade), many of them are in Region VI (Western Visayas),” he added.
Acorda urged the public not to vote for candidates who are involved in illegal drugs.
“I want to take this opportunity to appeal to voters not to consider candidates, who have involvement in illegal drugs, to become our next set of barangay officials,” the country’s top cop stressed.
For his part, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. urged all candidates for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to undergo a drug test amid police intelligence reports that there are around 430 barangay officials involved in the illegal drugs activities.
Abalos said illegal drugs remain one of the biggest problems in the country and barangay officials should take the lead not only in fighting them but also in leading by example by proving that they are clean.
“To all those who would run for the barangay elections, we are fighting a war that is a global problem. If you want to run and serve, then undergo a drug test and show to us that you are ready to serve. I am calling out to all candidates,” said Abalos,
Abalos then urged those who would run not to engage in violence and election cheating.
The barangay and SK elections are scheduled on Oct. 30 this year.
Acorda earlier revealed that they are monitoring 48 active and potential private armed groups that may mobilize on the days leading to the elections.
The PNP said it is focusing more on Regions 3 (Central Luzon), 5 (Bicol), 6 (Western Visayas), 13 (Caraga), Cordillera Administrative Region and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Acorda said part of the early interventions are operations to take away the instruments of crime and violence, particularly firearms.
“We are focusing more on the preventive aspect of crime control as instructed by the President. This is done by taking away the instruments of crime and violence by also accounting for the criminal elements who set into motion the criminal motive,” Acorda said.
The COC filing period for the 2023 BSKE will be from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2. (PNA)