EDITORIAL - So indict him

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If Dionisio Santiago broke the law while serving as head of the Dangerous Drugs Board and, in a previous administration, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, it’s not enough that he was fired from the DDB. Appropriate charges should be filed against him so that his alleged misdeeds will not be repeated by others.

The allegations against Santiago are serious. As announced at a press briefing by presidential spokesman Harry Roque, a complaint was filed against Santiago last month, accusing the then DDB chairman of taking his family with him on a government-paid junket to Austria, and his “girl Friday” and other favored employees to the United States.

A report pointed to a more serious allegation supposedly hurled by the PDEA union, accusing Santiago of accepting favors from major drug personalities, including a house and lot from then Ozamiz City mayor Reynaldo Parojinog. The union reportedly disowned the complaint.

Roque disclosed the complaints as he stressed that Santiago was fired not just for saying in media interviews that one of President Duterte’s pet projects, the mega drug rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija that was donated by a Chinese businessman, was “impractical” and “a mistake.”

Republic Act 6713 sets out a code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees. There is also RA 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. There are enough laws to warrant the criminal indictment of Santiago. This could lead not only to his permanent disqualification from public office but also his imprisonment for corruption, or even plunder if the gifts he allegedly received amount to at least P50 million. Other former public officials have been detained without bail on accusations of receiving favors from convicted drug traffickers. If Santiago broke the law, he must be held accountable and made to face the consequences.

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