President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday this week disclosed yet another list of “narco politicians” comprising of 46 government officials who are supposed to be in the government’s list of personalities involved in the illegal drugs trade. Among the officials in the list, and the only one coming from Palawan was El Nido Mayor Nieves Rosento.
In disclosing the list during a speech in Davao City, President Duterte justified his action, stating that the information he is making public has been vetted by top government agencies directly involved in the anti-drugs war. He added that he had ordered the filing of administrative charges against the named officials.
This was not the first time Malacañang has implicated Mayor Rosento in the illegal drugs trade; last year, the Palace took away her control over the Philippine National Police, along with several other mayors and governors previously named in the same list.
President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs has been applauded by his supporters and condemned by his critics. Regardless of how split the Philippine body politic is, the fact is the anti-drugs war has been associated with summary killings and the lack or sheer absence of due process in the way it is being executed. The president temperament towards his perceived enemies in the drugs war, intolerant and prejudiced by nature, has influenced the approach of the police and the drug enforcement agencies in dealing with suspect individuals, such that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights is now looking into it, at the chagrin of the president.
The significant part of the president’s disclosure was his order to file administrative cases against the named officials. Stating his confidence on the vetted information, he said the cases will now be handled by the Ombudsman.
It will be an issue of interest for El Nido that after all the accusations that have been leveled against Mayor Rosento, she now has an avenue to face her accuser and to avail of her proverbial day in court, if only at the Ombudsman and not yet in the regular courts where she must respond to the criminal nature of the allegation.
At stake here is the reputation of El Nido as a popular tourist destination where even the government has already invested a lot of time and resources to fix. A popular nature destination having a leader who is into illegal drugs not only damages the branding and attractiveness of the place, it also compromises its viability.