Rights group raps PNP on ‘sinister’ tact vs drugs
AN INTERNATIONAL rights group on Tuesday denounced a whistleblower program used by the Philippine National Police as a “sinister new tactic in its murderous war on drugs.”
The neighborhood informant system works by creating public drop boxes for residents to anonymously submit the names of alleged drug dealers and users, the group Human Rights Watch said.
The group said the informant system was first reported to them in July in Quezon City and has since spread to at least two cities and several towns.
“The police chief of Quezon City said when he launched the system that he would put one drop box in each of the city’s 142 barangays or neighborhoods. In one sense, the boxes could be called a success,” HRW said.
In Roxas City, anonymous informants slipped in the names of 36 of their neighbors in the first two weeks after it opened in late August.
The group also said that police in the towns of Pontevedra and Maayon in Capiz province have also installed the boxes, and plans are under way for a drop box inside City Hall in Iloilo City.
“Local authorities have even called on the Catholic Church to install drop boxes in its churches in and around Iloilo City and nearby areas,” the group said.
People whose names end up in a drop box could get their names placed on police drug watchlists.
The system, the group said, could fuel arbitrary arrests.
“And there are fears the drop boxes may well add to the thousands of killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs,” HRW said.
The group said police drug watchlists are routinely used to identify targets for extrajudicial killings by police or their agents.
“After 15 months and untold bloodshed, the government and police should stop their abusive war on drugs and allow an international investigation into the killings, rather than actively seek to increase the number of its victims,” the group urged.
Amid reports that most illegal drugs come in from China, Taiwan on Tuesday said it has never been a source of illicit narcotics.
In a statement, the representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Gary Song-Huann Lin, said Taiwan has been helping the Philippines fight illegal drugs.
“Taiwan fully supports the Philippines’ combat against transnational drug syndicates. Taiwan will continue to join hands with the Philippine relevant authorities to enhance cooperation to vigorously eliminate the transnational drug traffickings,” Lin said.
Teco said Lin has recently approached the relevant Philippine government agencies and the Senate to clarify that Taiwan has never been the source of illegal drugs.
Based on Philippine Drug Enforcement Administration statistics, most of the drugs are actually manufactured locally and do not come from overseas, Teco said.
Lin also emphasized that Taiwan and the Philippines have been working together to fight illegal drug for years.
He said in recent years, Taipei and Manila have established cooperation mechanisms and systems for the two countries to fight illegal transnational drug trafficking.
As a result of the joint efforts in the last three years, the Philippines has been able to close 12 important cases resulting in the confiscation of over 1,000 kilograms of shabu, more than 8,000 kilograms of semi-finished products and raw materials, three shabu laboratories, on distribution station and six shipments through air cargo and sea container. The market value of those seizures was more than P3.2 billion, Lin said.
The People’s Republic of China and the Philippine government, meanwhile, have agreed to strengthen existing cooperation to effectively combat drug trafficking along with other transnational crimes, such as terrorism.
This commitment was firmed up after Chinese law enforcement officials led by Liu Yuejin, the deputy director of Chinese National Narcotics Control Committee, Counter-Terrorism commissioner of Ministry of Public Security, held a meeting with their counterpart at the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Customs and other relevant agencies after participating in the 5th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Plus China Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crimes and the 8th Asean plus China, Japan, South Korea Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crimes last Sept. 21 in Manila.
“It is hoped that through the joint efforts of both sides, people can truly feel the strong determination of the two governments on narcotics-control, the multinational drug gangs will feel strong pressure from the two governments. The media and the public can feel of the huge benefits of cooperation in drug control to jointly maintain good relations of China and the Philippines on the overall situation,” Liu said, in a statement.
The China official revealed that both China and the Philippines have recognized that the cooperation in drug control has attained remarkable achievements since 2006.
“Both China and Philippines would like to combat drug crimes with more determination, more efforts, and more effective measures,” Liu said.
The two countries commit to strengthen cooperation in drug control by reinforcing their “real-time information exchange, closed case coordination, timely joint combat operations,” the statement said.
On its part, China vowed to support the country’s drug rehabilitation and other anti-drug programs aimed at reducing drug addition.
“In addition, China will further intensify the Philippines anti-drug training, and provide drug investigation, test equipment and technical support in drug control,” the Chinese official revealed.
Lin cited the recent confiscation of some P6.4 billion worth of shabu based on information that China provided.