MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday said it is up to Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año to decide on the release of the list of politicians allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
"It’s up to Año to decide on that. I do not interfere in his job," Duterte said in an interview with reporters at the ceremonial signing of the new landmark laws he signed on Wednesday at Malacañang Palace.
He, however, expressed support to the DILG's proposal to release the list.
"Would you rather --- hindi na talaga lalabas ‘yung pangalan nila? (that their names will no longer be released?) Galit ako sa droga (I hate drugs)," he said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said the release of the list of politicians would help voters make an "intelligent choice" in the upcoming May polls.
On Feb. 18, DILG Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaysia reportedly said they are asking permission from the President to release a list of local government officials with alleged drug links ahead of the May 13 mid-term polls.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said the list currently includes 83 politicians.
The campaign period for senatorial candidates and party-list groups started on Feb. 12 while that for the local post aspirants will kick off on March 30.
Peter Lim 'still active' in drugs, money laundering
Fugitive alleged drug lord Peter Lim is still active in his illegal transactions despite being in hiding, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said.
In an interview with reporters at the ceremonial signing of the new landmark laws he signed on Wednesday, Duterte expressed belief that Lim is still active in illegal activities but said he is uncertain whether the fugitive is in or out of the country.
"The network and the money laundering of Peter Lim is very much alive. So I’m just reiterating my warning here na (that) this drug problem is a national security threat. Meaning to say it can destroy the Philippines. And the orders are: destroy the enemy," Duterte said.
Once caught, Lim would be imprisoned for 200 years, Duterte said.
"Eh 'di ako sa kanya magpakulong ako, mag-suicide na lang siya (If I were him I won't allow myself to be jailed, he should just commit suicide)," he said.
Duterte said the illegal drugs problem is a national security threat "because it is an enemy which can cause destruction of a country or we render it a failed state".
"I could not be more emphatic and be clearer about it. Huwag ‘yang droga (Do not be involved in drugs)... I’m declaring war and I’ve raised it to the level of a national security. When a national security threat it’s a game of self-preservation. Either I destroy you or you destroy me," he said.
In August 2018, Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 65 Presiding Judge Gina Bibat-Palamos issued an arrest warrant and a hold departure order against Lim.
The Department of Justice filed against Lim two counts of the non-bailable offense of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade along with self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group tagging Lim as the source of "shabu" being sold by the Espinosa group.