QC police chief defends drop boxes: 'Even private establishments have them'

MANILA, Philippines – If private establishments could set up drop boxes to accept service suggestions or names of poorly performing employees, why couldn't local governments halls and police stations?

Quezon City Police District (QCPD) director Chief Superintendent Guillermo had this to say on the controversial reporting system now installed all over Quezon City, the country's most populated metropolis.

"Kahit lahat ng mga establishments, kahit mga private businesses, meron silang mga dropbox. Dropbox kasi, liwanagan natin, na ito kasi hindi lang ito para sa mga complaints it could also be suggestions, it could also be comments," Eleazar told Rappler in an interview.

(Even establishments, even private businesses, they have drop boxes. It's because of drop boxes, let's be clear, it is not only for complaints but also for suggestions.)

The one-star general was addressing the disapproval to the boxes for its supposed susceptivity for abuse, in a time when cops face controversies on allegedly illegitimate operations.

Eleazar emphasized that the boxes were not only meant to collect information on drug and criminal suspects but also get the pulse of the community so that local officials and cops can address issues, much like a restaurant owner tidying up shop for complaining customers.

Intention, validation

LAUNCHED. Quezon City distributes drop boxes to its barangays. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

LAUNCHED. Quezon City distributes drop boxes to its barangays.

Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

The Quezon City drop boxes were not always intended to accept housekeeping suggestions, however.

When it first launched early October 2017, the first batch of boxes was set up to collect primarily pieces of paper carrying information against drug suspects, given that local police gather intel primarily through whistleblower residents.

After the reporting scheme was legitimized by the Department of the Interior and Local Government then slammed by public officials the same month, the QC local government rebranded the fiberglass crates.

Officials switched the name from "Oplan Tokhang suggestions and complaints drop box" to just plain "Suggestions and complaints drop box".

In any case, Eleazar said, police can only act on the notes if they really do point to incriminating evidence, assuring the public that they will check all claims that drop to the boxes.

"All of our work, police operations are based on evidence. Any information given to us will be subjected to validation. Once the validation shows that the claim is false, we will no longer pursue the case," Eleazar said in a mix of English and Filipino. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.