A member of a group of human rights lawyers on Wednesday decried the “unconstitutionality” of newly appointed Interior Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño's directive to barangay executives to submit a list of suspected drug pushers and criminals in their areas.
“Nakakabagabag, ano, itong direktiba ni Usec. Diño, dahil una, mayroong paglabag sa Constitution, 'yung right to presumption of innocence, kasi ang sabi dito suspected drug pushers, suspected criminals,” said lawyer Gilbert Andres of the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) in an interview on Balitanghali.
He also said CenterLaw is considering which legal actions they could take and may assail Diño’s directive through a memorandum to the Supreme Court, saying it is “dangerous” for a state to “label” some of its people as suspected law offenders.
“Dapat po ‘wag tayong gumawa ng listahan kasi unang-una, estado yan eh, estado ang gumagawa ng listahan, at kung meron na pong labeling ang estado natin, delikado na po 'yan,” he said.
“Hindi 'yan basta-basta lang, kung sabihin ng estado na ‘Huy, kriminal ka,’ kasi korte lang pong makakagawa niyan,” he added.
Andres said that this per-barangay drug watchlist could serve as a basis for arresting or even killing those placed on it.
“Ito yung nakakabagabag, kasi 'yung presumption of innocence ay malamang nalalabag ng listahang ito,” he said.
He said due process should prevail given the said right.
“Meron tayong presumption of innocence, so dapat may proseso. Imbestigahan ng ating mga pulisya. Naniniwala naman tayo sa sapat na kakayahan ng ating pulisya na mag-imbestiga,” he said.
Moreover, he said that barangay captains may be “pressured” to come up with a drug watchlist as it is a requirement and simply implicate people they have personal grievances against.
“...Baka po ma-pressure sila, kung sino-sino na lang ang ilalagay diyan, kung merong kalaban diyan, or merong kagalit, yung kasambahay o kapitbahay, baka malagay na lang diyan,” he said.
Andres also wondered how a person wrongly put on the list could contest their inclusion.
“Madali kasing ma-include sa listahan, ang isyu is madali rin bang maalis sa listahan,” he said.
Diño was reported to have said barangay captains should produce a drug and criminal watchlist from their own barangays, saying barangays should be on the frontlines of the government’s war against illegal drugs.
His appointment paper to the Department of the Interior and Local Government was signed on January 8.
Diño, himself a former barangay chairman in Quezon City, was also formerly the chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. — Nicole-Anne C. Lagrimas/BM, GMA News