THE Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, a political party where President Rodrigo Duterte is a member, is purging its list to get rid of corrupt politicians and those engaged in drug dealing and trafficking.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III revealed this on Saturday as the ruling party started reviewing records of membership to identify the politicians tagged in the drug watchlist of Duterte.
He said those tagged in the drug list would be suspended or booted out of the party.
“There is zero tolerance for politicians who use their position to spread harm among the people, even if they are members of the Party,” said Pimentel, also the president of PDP-Laban.
In a related development:
• In Bataan, at least 4,500 new members from the province joined PDP-Laban.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez officiated their mass oath-taking at Vista Mall Thursday in the capital city of Balanga.
“This call of PDP-Laban could mean a possible unification of all political parties in the province. All incumbent officials were invited and took oath as members of the political party.” commented Mariveles town Councilor Tito Catipon.
For his part, Bagac Councilor Popoy del Rosario said in Filipino, “I am happy to be part of the ruling political party PDP-Laban. I have strong confidence to (sic) the party.”
Balanga City Councilor Jovic Baluyot said, “It is a privilege to be a member of PDP-Laban. The political party has good structure to sustain programs for its members and for the country as well. It has strict membership recruitment not accepting those involved in illegal drugs.”
Gov. Abet Garcia and Reps. Joet Garcia and Geraldine Roman of Bataan’s first and second districts, respectively, joined the oath-taking of new members who trooped to the mall as early as 6 in the morning.
Sworn in were provincial officials, municipal officials from 11 towns and one city, and village officials and leaders from 237 barangays.
According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the drug problem in the Philippines would continue unless the administration got rid of government officials and law enforcers protecting drug dealing.
“The continued existence of the illegal drug trade is contrary to the principles of the Party. You are not a true member of PDP-Laban if you defy our chairman’s campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.
Pimentel tapped PDP-Laban vice chairman and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi to spearhead efforts in purging the party’s ranks of corrupt elements. Cusi also heads the Party’s Discipline Committee.
“As the President and our Chairman said, if you are unfairly linked to the drug trade, you will be given the chance to clear your name. However, no help will come to you if we can confirm the allegations,” said Pimentel.
Pimentel explained that membership in the PDP-Laban was a privilege reserved for those who actively support its principles and policies in words and deeds.
He said the rapid expansion of PDP-Laban, swamped with thousands of applications, allowed these questionable members to enter the party, but with the multi-step membership review process, these individuals would be eventually identified and removed.
In a forum, PDEA officials revealed that international drug syndicates were operating in the country in cahoots with government officials, law enforcers and community leaders.
They said methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu; marijuana and party drug ecstasy were the top three narcotics distributed in the streets and these prohibited substances are manufactured by Chinese, Taiwanese and Mexican drug syndicates.
Duterte also disclosed that 40 percent of barangay officials were linked to illegal drugs or directly involved in drug dealing and trafficking.
Since July 2016, at least 39 village chairmen and 53 village councilmen have been arrested due to involvement in illegal drugs.
Authorities suggested a target of 30 percent of barangays must be cleared yearly in the hope of totally eradicating the drug menace in four years.
According to latest available figures, the National Capital Region had the highest drug affectation of 97.30 percent, with the cities of Caloocan, Navotas, Valenzuela, Muntinlupa and Taguig obtaining 100 percent, while Las Piñas had the least affectation of 55 percent.
PDEA is closely coordinating with other law enforcement agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation, National Police, and the Armed Forces, and the Office of the President to go after a number of state officials protecting and financing the drug trade.
Former PDEA chief and now Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said the country’s drug problem could now be classified as national security threat.
A study conducted by Philippine Center on Transnational Crime during the time of then President Joseph Estrada revealed “the underworld has virtually taken a new role in the geopolitical order with the establishment of a semi-ideological institution known as Narcocracy.”
It said this institution had subtly invaded almost all countries and was now actively participating in running the economic and political affairs of some states to the extent of dictating courses of action of governments or, worst, monopolizing the administration of government.
“It relies solely on underground capitalism with profit as its primary orientation and drugs as the main subject of commerce. Its strategy is bribery directed against those occupying sensitive positions in government or participating in political exercises by shouldering the bulk of the financial requirements of political parties. Its social activity is giving off dole outs in the form of money with the end in view of influencing decision making or exerting pressure on concerned personalities to further their interests,” the PCTC paper narrated.
The authorities vowed the government’s crackdown on drug dealing in the country would continue with the goal of catching protectors and financiers of the illegal drug trade. With Butch Gunio