MANILA, Philippines – Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas revealed that one of the 3 congressmen included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s list of narco politicians has already been taken out.
The Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative made the revelation during the session on Tuesday afternoon, February 7, the same day the death penalty measure was sponsored for second reading.
Buhay Representative Lito Atienza said the House cannot tackle House Bill Number 4727 until Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez provides the names of the 3 lawmakers whom he previously said were part of the drug list.
“Hindi po ba tama (Isn’t it right) for the sake of clarity, transparency, and fairness, so that all of us who will engage in this debate on the death penalty are cleared in our position, in our standing, and our representation? That we are not drug lords, we are not related in any way to the drug problem of the nation?” said Atienza, who is opposing the death penalty.
“And it can only be done with the Speaker naming the 3 members of this chamber whom he has publicly announced as [being] involved in the problem of drugs in the nation,” he added.
Fariñas then argued it would be unfair for Alvarez to reveal the names when Duterte himself has not identified the people on the list.
He also said there is a need to further validate the list because one of the congressmen mentioned turned out to have no links to the narcotics trade.
Unfair to reveal names
“As of now, those 3 on the list, one of them has already been removed. And they accepted that it was by mistake and there was no basis. And it is precisely for this reason that we should conduct a strict inquiry because it is unfair to name members of this body when they have not been given the opportunity to rebutt and we have not even seen how this came up,” said Fariñas.
“If the President himself, who is the chief executive and has all the resources to verify all of these information, did not reveal the names of these people, it would be unfair to reveal their names prior to a deeper investigation,” he added.
Fariñas and the congressmen alleged to be drug protecters are scheduled to meet with Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro Lapeña on Wednesday to further probe into the narco list.
The Majority Leader told Atienza the House leadership would reveal the congressmen’s names should there be actual basis for their inclusion in the narco list.
“[Should] there be basis to go further than that, then we will file it in the committee on ethics. But then, let me clear that the jurisdiction of the committee on ethics only applies to acts committed in the present Congress. So there are many matters to be taken up first here,” said Fariñas.
“So may I ask the indulgence of the gentleman that before the voting comes, we will thoroughly reveal the names if there is basis to reveal them,” he added.
Duterte, who is currently waging a bloody war against drugs, counts the majority of congressmen as his allies.