33 mayors in Duterte narco list to be stripped of police powers – DILG

MANILA, Philippines – The 33 incumbent mayors in the latest installment of President Rodrigo Duterte's infamous drug list will be stripped of police powers, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Wednesday, April 17.

DILG Undersecretary and Spokesman Jonathan Malaya confirmed this in a text message to Rappler on Wednesday, April 17.

Asked if the mayors on the narco list would be stripped of police powers, Malaya told Rappler: “That’s actually in the pipeline. SILG will include that in the agenda of the next Napolcom meeting.”

He said the next meeting of the National Police Commission is after Holy Week.

Responding to questions, Malaya said stripping the mayors of police powers was certain since Año, as Interior secretary, chaired the Napolcom en banc.

What police powers? This means the officials will lose command and control over police operations in their areas, as well as the power to deploy, choose, or reassign police personnel, a mandate given them under Republic Act No. 8551 or the Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998.

Under RA 8551, local officials may be stripped of police powers due to frequent absences, abuse of authority, involvement in criminal groups, or if they engage in acts harmful to national security.

As of July 2018, the Napolcom has stripped 186 local officials  of police deputization, following the recommendation of the DILG. When mayors lose their police powers, the central police command, which is also under Año as DILG chief, have control over police in their areas.

On what basis? The 33 mayors are currently facing administrative cases before the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged grave misconduct. The cases were filed on the same week they were named by Duterte.

So far, however, the DILG has not filed criminal cases to formally charge the politicians of involvement in the illegal drugs trade.

The 33 are part of the list of 46 which includes 8 vice mayors, 3 congressmen, one board member, and one former mayor. (READ: Duterte names 8 party mates in new drug list)

The removal of police powers of 11 more mayors comes less than a month before the May 13 elections.

Of the 46 people on the President's list, 36 are running in the elections, 22 of whom are reelectionists. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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