(File photo)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) said Wednesday it is beefing up intelligence monitoring against barangay officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

PNP public information office chief, Brig. Gen. Redrico Maranan, said this is part of police efforts to ensure the conduct of safe and peaceful Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).

"Siyempre napakalaki ng epekto niyan doon sa kampanya na ginagawa sa paglaban sa illegal na droga sapagkat alam natin kapag ang isang namumuno ay may kinalaman sa illegal na droga, nawawala ng saysay yung ating mga pamamaraan at paglaban natin sa illegal na droga dahil maaaring siya ay nagiging protektor at naitatago niya yung mga impormasyon na dapat ay nakakarating agad sa mga law enforcement agency at sa ganun ay magamit sa mabilis na paghuli at pagbuwag sa sindikato ng droga (Of course, it has a big effect on the campaign against illegal drugs. If an official is involved in illegal drugs, all of our efforts to fight this menace go down the drain because these officials become coddlers and conceal information that could help law enforcement agencies dismantle and arrest members of drug syndicates)," Maranan said in an interview with reporters.

He also called on barangay officials to submit themselves to a voluntary drug test.

"We have this call because this will greatly help in our campaign against illegal drugs. Second, it would set a good example for their constituents," Maranan said in Filipino.

He added that strengthening the operations against barangay officials linked to illegal drugs is vital in exposing those who seek government posts while involved in these illegal acts.

Maranan said this would also help the PNP reduce incidents of violence ahead of the BSKE as drug syndicates are known to use their money in supporting candidates sympathetic to their business.

During the previous administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs from July 2016 to May 2022, a total of 406 elected officials, the majority of whom were barangay officials, were arrested over their involvement in the illegal drugs trade.

A total of 533 government employees, including barangays workers, were also put behind bars.

AFP looking to clear around 300 barangays

As this developed, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col.Medel  Aguilar said that the military is looking at around 300 barangays it wants to clear from insurgent influence or presence.

"They are barangays that we want to clear or to remain clear from the presence of armed insurgents, which will be helpful in the conduct of a secured and free election," he added.

Aguilar also clarified that these barangays are not "hotspots" for the coming BSKE.

"And there is a process in determining Election Areas of Concern involving the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Concerns," he added. (with report from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)