Suspects’ list in city plaza?

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Monday, May 12, 2014


NAGA City Mayor Valdemar Chiong plans to put in the city plaza the names of persons arrested and charged with offenses involving illegal drugs.

But Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III and a Commission on Human Rights (CHR) official cautioned he may end up violating human rights.

So far, Naga City, Moalboal and Daanbantayan town mayors have called up the Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CPADAC) and asked about drug tests, after the governor urged all mayors to get their workers tested for drugs.

At least three surprise tests were conducted recently at the Capitol, and an unspecified number tested positive for drug use.

Capitol, CPADAC and Naga City Hall are taking up the funding for the tests, which will involve more than 200 workers in Naga City.

Mayor’s reward

Asked if the illegal drug situation in Naga is at a critical level, the mayor said, “I always think the drug problem is alarming; in fact I will be extending financial rewards to our police for any arrest of drug suspects.”

Interviewed separately, the City of Naga’s police chief said he believes that posting the names of arrested and charged drug personalities could help deter illegal drug activities in the city.

Supt. Brindo Nacario told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday that posting the names of illegal drug suspects in the plaza will also inform residents that the local police are doing something to prevent crimes and to run after criminals in their jurisdiction.

Nacario said that since he assumed as police chief three months ago, his office has arrested about four to five drug suspects a month.

He added that while the illegal drug problem persists in Naga, he is glad that there are no shabu laboratories or production facilities in his area, unlike some local government units in Cebu.

Embarrassment

Under the mayor’s plan, the names of those arrested and charged will be the ones posted at the city plaza.

Governor Davide said it might be a good idea, at least because it will inform people about the alleged users and pushers in the community.

“Pero mao lagi, ato nang tan-awon pud ang aspeto sa constitutional rights ining mga tawo nato (But we also need to consider people’s constitutional rights). They are presumed innocent,” said Davide.

CHR investigator Primo Cadampog said the plan, if it pushes through, would violate human rights.

“That would cause shame and embarrassment to the subject and to his or her family,” said Cadampog.

Chiong said it was just an idea, and he intends to verify “if no rights will be violated.”

He believes that posting the names of suspects in public would serve as “a deterrent for those people nga duna’y uwaw (who still feel some shame).” He added he still has to consult some legal minds.

Rehab required

He recalled that during surprise drug tests two years ago, there were some City workers who tested positive of illegal drugs. They were suspended for six months, then allowed to return to work but under close watch, Chiong also said.

“Wa man siguro empleyado namo nga addict gyud, pero naay mga user lang; okasyon-okasyon tingali ba, ug naay disco (We probably have no addicts among our employees, but some occasionally use drugs, such as during a disco),” he said.

Government employees and officials face the maximum penalties if they are found guilty of violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act. They will also be permanently disqualified from public office.

The same law states that those found positive of illegal drugs for the first time, after a confirmatory test, will have to spend six months in a government rehabilitation center. If they get caught again, they will face six years to 12 years in jail, plus a fine of P50,000 to P200,000. Tougher penalties will be imposed if they were arrested in possession of large amounts of illegal drugs.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 13, 2014.

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