If drug list wrong, PDEA to apologize: 'Kami ay tao lang'

NOT AIRTIGHT. Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino during a press conference at the PDEA Headquarters in Quezon City on April 30, 2018. File photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

NOT AIRTIGHT. Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino during a press conference at the PDEA Headquarters in Quezon City on April 30, 2018.

File photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – What if the newly released drug list of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) turns out to have errors?

That's the question now after the PDEA on Monday, April 30, released the names of hundreds of barangay officials allegedly involved in the drug trade. The basis of that list – intelligence reports.

If those reports contain mistakes, PDEA chief Director General Aaron Aquino said they will apologize. But he also admitted that if that were the case, the harm had already been done.

"Kung nagkataon talagang mali, eh siyempre lahat naman tayo ay tao lang at nagkakamali, 'di ba? We will try to ask [for] an apology, pero sabi nga the harm is done, nasabi mo na 'yan eh," Aquino said in an interview with ANC's Headstart on Tuesday, May 1.

(If we did make a mistake, of course all of us are just human and we also commit mistakes, right? We will try to ask for an apology, but as they say, the harm is done, it had already been said.)

He noted that such mistakes have happened in the past, and could happen again. (READ: PDEA admits cases vs officials in drug list 'not airtight')

"It happened before. I think it's in Pangasinan where a politician was [accused as] involved. Eventually it was retracted. It turns out he was not involved.... It might happen again," Aquino said in a mix of English and Filipino.

But he doubts they would commit a mistake now, as the 207-name list was supposedly thoroughly validated by 4 executive agencies: the PDEA, the Philippine National Police, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

What if all of them commit a mistake?

"Kung kaming apat ay nagkamali, eh tatanggapin namin. Kami ay tao lang na nagkamali kami, so I just hope hindi kasi nga aapat 'yun eh," said Aquino.

(If all 4 of us commit a mistake, we will accept it. We're just humans and we also make mistakes, so I just hope that we don't [mess up] because there are already 4 of us [in the validation].)

In earlier interviews, Aquino has repeatedly said any official who wants to contest his or her inclusion in the drug list can file complaints against the PDEA. (IN NUMBERS: Problematic barangays, local areas in PDEA's drug list)

"My legal team is ready, and they are ready to deal with it. They can face my legal team. I know that the government would fully support me," Aquino earlier told Rappler. – 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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