Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian has expressed alarm over the increasing number of government officials and employees arrested for drug-related crimes, with some admitting that they resorted to drug dealing to raise campaign funds.
Gatchalian was reacting to reports by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on the increasing number of public servants getting involved in the illegal drug trade, with 190 public officials — including 56 elected and 49 law enforcers — arrested last year for drug-related offenses.
“This early, PDEA and other anti-drug operatives should conduct a crackdown against known public officials who are still involved in drug trafficking especially those who use the proceeds for their political campaign kitty in the forthcoming elections,” said Gatchalian.
The PDEA report said the total is almost 38 percent higher than the previous year, wherein 138 public officials were arrested by various law enforcement agencies, including PDEA. Since 2011, a total of 158 local politicians have been apprehended for illegal drugs.
“The increasing number of public servants nabbed for illegal drugs should be a huge concern especially with the admission of a number of arrested suspects that their drug-dealing activities is part of their electoral fund raising campaign,” said Gatchalian, majority member of the House Committee on Local Government and a former three-term mayor of Valenzuela City.
Gatchalian maintained that the more important question is how many of those elective officials arrested for illegal drugs have been actually convicted so as to prevent them from running and possibly winning again in the 2016 national elections.
“2015 is not yet even over, yet the arrests from this year’s first half alone have reached more than a hundred. I would not be surprised if this year’s total number breaks the record. On the other hand, I am congratulating PDEA for their intensifying efforts in arresting crooked public officials and employees,” said Gatchalian.
PDEA Director General Arturo G. Cacdac Jr. observed the same trend in a press release in February: “It is alarming that more and more government officials and law enforcers are getting involved in illegal drug activities when they are supposed to implement the law, maintain peace and order in their area and promote the well-being of the people.”
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed in July criminal charges against two former mayors of Masbate who were linked to the operations of two shabu laboratories in the province by the Philippine National Police- Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force.
The PNP-AIDSOTF said a number of elected officials arrested in Masbate claimed that they could not return to politics because they don’t have the money.
“But if they had money they could again run in the elections and the fastest way to earn money is drugs, that’s why they set up a laboratory in Masbate,” the PNP-AIDSOTF said.
Republic Act No. 9165, also known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, imposes maximum penalties as well as absolute perpetual disqualification from public office on government officials and employees found guilty of violating the law. (Monica Cantilero)