CHR cautions PDEA against plan to name suspected barangay ‘narcopols’
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has cautioned the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against its plan to publicly name barangay officials allegedly involved in the narcotics trade. PDEA should instead let due process take its course.
While the CHR acceded that it understood the PDEA’s rationale to “inform voters that these officials are not worthy of public office,” especially in light of the barangay elections this May, the rights body underscored that “presumption of innocence and right to due process must not be compromised as these are Constitutional guarantees to ensure that human rights are protected at all times.”
“The Commission agrees that there is a need to cleanse the local government from those who exacerbate the drug problem. We, however, urge the PDEA to be more discerning in releasing any information pertaining to the drug list. Rule of law dictates that filing a case in the court is the proper way to apprehend and exact accountability from erring public officials,” the CHR said, in a statement sent to the media on Saturday evening.
Public accusations without due legal process, the CHR said, would cause “undue shame, violate their right to fair trial, erode their dignity, and results to suffering of their families,” which would be “irreversible” should the supposed “narcopoliticians” turn out to be innocent.
“If the intention is to cleanse the local government from those involved in drugs, the legal process is the best way to ensure that those proven to be erring local executives can no longer serve or return to public office. In this way, the government can demonstrate that it is firm in its policies and programs while ensuring that no undue harm is done and the rights and dignity of people are respected and protected,” the CHR maintained. /atm
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