CHR, Church leader worry about drop boxes
CEBU CITY — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Central Visayas and a Church leader here raised concern over the plan to place drop boxes in each of the 80 villages in Cebu City for anonymous tipsters to put in names of drug suspects and corrupt officials.
“Those who have enemies can use the drop box to antagonize them or tag them as drug personalities in whatever capacity,” said Leo Villarino, CHR Central Visayas chief. “That’s the difficult thing,” he said.
Msgr. Esteban Binghay, former episcopal vicar of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said the use of drop boxes for collecting information on drugs had both advantages and disadvantages.
“The advantage is those of goodwill can express their opinions. On the other hand, its disadvantage is it can be used for any other purpose,” he said.
“There are always limitations. People can use it for personal reasons,” he added.
The use of drop boxes was in the revised guidelines issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the implementation of the Mamamayang Ayaw sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw sa Iligal na Droga (Masa Masid) program.
Masa Masid is a nationwide project aimed at fostering “community involvement” in the administration’s campaign against drugs, criminality and corruption, according to the nine-page guideline issued by Catalino Cuy, acting local government secretary, on Aug. 29.
Drop boxes to be placed in village halls were among methods of reporting crimes, drug cases or corruption. Tipsters could also text or e-mail reports.
The drop box program would be implemented in Tacloban City starting this month and in Cebu City starting in November.
Pia Monina Lovete, head of the DILG-Cebu City local government monitoring and evaluation office, appealed to the public not to use the drop box for personal reasons.
“The intention is good but sometimes it is in the implementation that we get into trouble because this can be used for own personal ends,” she said.
“Thus we appeal to the goodness of our people not to abuse or use this for their own intention,” she added.
Villarino said the CHR planned to discuss the program during a meeting
with the DILG, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and barangay officials on Wednesday.
“The issue about the drop box is so timely,” he said.
Villarino said using drop boxes was prone to abuse because people might use it to destroy the reputation of their enemies.
“Those boxes will become a depository of any information — verified or unverified. The problem here is how to filter the information,” he said.
But Desiree Pontejos, acting CHR chief of Eastern Visayas, said information in drop boxes would be treated with confidentiality.
“We can only consider it as a violation of one’s rights if this will be broadcast or published,” Pontejos said.
Darwin Bibar, DILG chief in Tacloban, said names drawn from drop boxes would be verified and later endorsed to police or the Ombudsman in case of officials.
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