De Lima hits house-to-house drug testing in QC; cop chief says it’s voluntary
Senator Leila de Lima expressed alarm on Wednesday over what she described as “inaccurate and incriminatory” house-to-house drug testing by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Payatas, Quezon City as part of its massive anti-drug operations.
“The poor people are the ones being harassed from all these reckless actions led by our police authorities,” de Lima said in a statement.
The senator also said the on-the-spot drug test, conducted using a “do-it-yourself drug testing kit,” was not only inaccurate but also a violation of due process of law.
“This operation is obviously inaccurate and incriminatory because the drug tests were not conducted by accredited people and agency,” she added.
But QC Police District (QCPD) chief Senior Supt. Guillermo Eleazar assured that the operation conducted by QCPD station 6 was voluntary.
“Voluntary yun so kung ayaw naman nila ng ganun hindi naman sila pipilitin na magpa-drug test (It’s voluntary so if they don’t want it, they won’t be forced to undergo the drug test),” Eleazar told INQUIRER.net
“Positive o negative man ang resulta, walang makakasuhan dito. Initial palang kasi kaya do-it-yourself kit ang gamit, pero pagkatapos ng test, may drug dependency evaluation naman. Mas intensive na proseso na run,” he added.
(Whether the result would be positive or negative, no one would be charged. This is just an initial test that’s why a do-it-yourself kit is being used. But after the test, there will be a drug evaluation and that will be a more intensive process.)
De Lima also noted the Facebook post of Fr. Daniel “Danny” Pilario, a priest from Parokya ng Ina ng Lupang Pangako in Payatas, that showed photos of houses’ gates marked by cops and barangay leaders, which may indicate that its residents got tested for illegal drug use.
She also said a video by Vera Files showed a teenager being asked to take drug test in lieu of his father whom the police were initially looking for.
The video also showed a grandmother being compelled to submit a urine sample but tested negative for drugs, De Lima added.
Eleazar said he had not watched the video but explained that the policemen do not have a specific list for the drug testing, which was being administered in cooperation with barangay officials.
“Bgy. Kagawad Alejandro Adan, chairman of the barangay’s peace and order committee, confirmed that when found positive, a person’s name is placed on a watch list but was not sure what would happen to him next,” De Lima said.
Under Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act, de Lima said all drug tests should be done by “government forensic laboratories or by any of the drug testing laboratories accredited and monitored by the Department of Health to safeguard the quality of test results.”
According to Eleazar, the results from the drug test were considered confidential, and would be the basis for a drug dependency evaluation for possible rehabilitation of a resident.
“Kino-consider naman na confidential yan (results). And yung results is for consumption of police officers lang,” he said.
While the police and the local leaders consider the drug testing approach as an alternative to killings of suspects, de Lima said it still violated the rights of the poor.
“Barangay Payatas houses thousands of disadvantaged families. By conducting this unauthorized drug testing, people continue to live in fear while the rich and the privileged who are behind the drug cartel enjoy their freedom without being questioned,” she said.
While he saw nothing wrong about the program, the QCPD chief said he is open for “improvements” on the program.
“We can improve that kung kinakailangan, lagay nalang tayo ng isang lugar sa labas na hindi na sa bahay. Selected or a designated place para dun nalang sila pupunta kung gusto nila magpa-undergo ng drug test,” said Eleazar.
“Their rights will not be violated. Well nasa news narin yan so ipaalam natin sa kanila na hindi sapilitan. Para sa akin mali rin yung gumawa ka ng mali para sa isang goal mo na tama,” he added.
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