CHR: Use of drop boxes in drug war increases risk of mistaken arrest

'DRUG BOXES'. Barangay Valencia in Quezon City installed wooden boxes to accept reports against drug suspects. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

'DRUG BOXES'. Barangay Valencia in Quezon City installed wooden boxes to accept reports against drug suspects.

Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – While it supports the government's goal of eliminating the use of illegal drugs, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Sunday, August 13, expressed concern over the use of drop boxes to collect names of suspected drug personalities.

In a statement, the CHR said this method "may expose an individual to mistaken arrest if the information is not verified and court processes are not involved."

This practice is being done in Barangay Valencia in Quezon City where, in partnership with City Police Station 7, 4 wooden boxes have been available since July 2016 to collect names of drug suspects from residents who fear the risks of reporting.

The use of drug lists as basis for anti-drug operations, however, has been heavily debated, with some criticizing the use of anonymous and unverified tips. (READ: On a drug list and innocent? Here's what you should do)

These lists are also supposedly used by those behind extrajudicial killings in the bloody war on drugs, according to several reports. (READ: The Impunity Series

The CHR also hit the use of "drug-free" stickers in the campaign, saying it may lead to the tagging of homes with no stickers as those with drug pushers and users. 

"This violates the right of any person to be heard before he/she is condemned," the commission said. "A person's honor, as well as the reputation of his/her family, would also be harmed."

While it recognizes the importance of citizens being proactive in the campaign against crime and illegal drugs, the CHR also calls on law enforcers to ensure that "these measures are not, in any way, violative of the Constitution and other human rights standards."

The commission added: "[The CHR] is also hopeful that the government will continue to reexamine its anti-drug campaign and adopt a strategic and comprehensive, but human rights-based approach." – Rappler.com

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.

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