MANILA -- Two senators on Monday urged the government to file criminal charges against politicians allegedly linked to the illegal drug trade instead of releasing the narco-list ahead of the mid-term elections in May.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) should file appropriate charges to bar narco politicians from joining the upcoming polls.
"Shaming them can only do so much. They have the money and local relationships that will ensure their victory," Gatchalian said.
"The best strategy is to remove them legally through the proper courts," he added.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) cannot prevent those on the list from running for office in May because "being on a list, even on a narco list" is not recognized as a legal ground for disqualifying candidates since they are all presumed innocent until proven guilty.
"If the government has included them in a list because the government is convinced, by evidence, of their involvement in the narco trade, then it is government's duty now to file charges against them using the evidence which made them land in the said list," Pimentel said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed support for the DILG's proposal to release the narco-list ahead of the May 13 mid-term elections.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, however, said releasing the list would be "unfair" as it is a form of negative campaigning.
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 the one for local aspirants will kick off on March 30. (PNA)