430 ‘narco-officials’ under monitoring

Philippine National Police chief Police General Benjamin Acorda Jr. on Thursday disclosed that at least 430 barangay officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs are now monitoring by law enforcement agencies.

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 said.

He added that the 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),” said Acorda, as he 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,” Acorda said.

For his part, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos urged all candidates for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to undergo a drug test amid police intelligence reports that there were 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.

Meantime, Acorda 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.

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