MANILA Candidates in next week's Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections should consider undergoing voluntary drug testing, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Albayalde said Monday.
Speaking during the #RealNumbers forum in Camp Crame, Albayalde emphasized that even if it is not a requirement under the law, voluntary drug testing by candidates would dispel skepticism about their sincerity to go after drug personalities in their communities.
"Merong mga incidents of mga nag surrender na mga barangay officials, kagawad up to the barangay chairman and we are putting this drug test challenge sa mga barangay officials at sa mga tumatakbo pa, although sabi nga nila na walang batas para dito but we wanted to put this challenge sa kanila (We have had surrendereres who are kagawads up to barangay captains, even if there is no law requiring them to do it, we are putting this drug test challenge for them)," Albayalde said.
The PNP chief said the challenge has already gained traction in some areas.
"Kung wala naman talaga itinatago yang mga yan, why not undergo a voluntary drug test. Ito yung sinasabi natin, hintayin pa ba lumabas yung listahan na yan, maakusahan ng mga ganyan. Remember in Region 1, there were several candidates and incumbent barangay officials who underwent voluntary drug test. It's a challenge to everyone dito sa mga tumatakbo ng SK and barangay elections to voluntarily undergo drug test (If they have nothing to hide, then there is nothing to fear. In Region 1 there were several candidates and incumbent barangay officials who underwent voluntary testing," the new PNP chief added.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag, for her part, said Malacanang is working closely to bridge the prosecution arm of the war on drugs and the PNP.
Banaag cited Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara already ordered last week the courtesy resignation of the agency's undersecretaries and assistant secretaries to give him a free hand in pursuing the mandate of the agency.
"We are also working for our drug units to improve their case build-up capabilities," Albayalde said.
The PNP chief said those willing to take up the drug test challenge may go through the PNP Crime Laboratory as well as Department of Health (DOH) clinics which provide drug testing at competitive rates.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) earlier reiterated that there is no law requiring electoral candidates to take mandatory drug tests amid calls from lawmakers and Liga ng mga Barangay President Edmund Abesamis for the implementation of such measure.
Last week, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA) announced the names of 207 barangay officials from over 100 barangays, including 90 barangay captains in its watchlist of drug personalities, as vetted by inter-agency investigation.
Candidates will be running for posts in 42,044 barangays, each with one chairperson, seven councilors, one SK chairperson and seven SK councilors. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency