AFTER some rented rooms in Barangay Pajo in Lapu-Lapu City were marked as “identified drug dens” last Monday, 98 drug personalities surrendered to the barangay and to the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LCPO) yesterday.

Pajo Barangay Captain Junard Chan said he is willing to talk with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) so the latter would understand the information they gathered and the procedure they followed in conducting the shame campaign.

“As a father of the barangay, and just like the CHR, di ko gusto dunay durugista mapatay, mapriso, maboang. Nangita ko og paagi nga mabag-o ilang kinabuhi. Kung papilion ko sa mapatay, mapriso ug maboang, mas mopili na lang ko nga pakaulawan akong tawo ug mag-usab (I don’t want that there will be drug suspects who will be killed, imprisoned or will suffer mental problems. If I were to choose the fate of the drug personalities, whether they will be killed, imprisoned or will suffer from mental problems because of drugs, I’d rather embarrass them so they would realize they need to change),” he said.

To their surprise, Chan said drug personalities presented themselves to barangay and police officials yesterday, a day after they marked three rooms in different rented houses in Sitio Kamanggahan as “identified drug den area” using spray paint and a cardboard.

He responded to the request of Rudy Lareno, 70, who sought the help of the barangay and the LCPO after several persons came in and out of the rooms rented by the alleged drug personalities.

Lareno, the owner of the rented houses, said he can hardly sleep at night because of the presence of the unknown persons.

Chan said illegal drug activities continued despite the drug operations that were conducted in the sitio, where the sale of illegal drugs is rampant.

They have repeatedly invited drug personalities from Sitio Kamanggahan to surrender, but they did not respond.

As for those who already surrendered during the Operation Tokhang, Chan said the barangay was not remiss in providing them support. Pajo officials have programs for surrenderers, including spiritual guidance, family counseling, livelihood and physical fitness activities.

Chan said the barangay’s campaign against illegal drugs is aimed at preventing the drug personalities’ condition from getting worse.

The Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 welcomed the shame campaign of the Lapu-Lapu City.

However, PRO 7 Director Jose Espino said the campaign should not violate human rights.

“We are looking at this like the two sides of a coin. The disadvantage is that the shame campaign is on the negative side but it was upon the request of their constituents. For the advantage, it made 80 drug users surrender to the authorities,” Espino said.

Espino said they are awaiting the evaluation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7 on the campaign.

“If the CHR says it violates human rights then we will direct the police to stop it,” Espino said.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7 sent a team yesterday to conduct an investigation on the shame campaign.

Atty. Arvin Odron, CHR 7 director, said they have to verify the allegations against the campaign.

“Actually, I did not expect the local version of the shame campaign to happen in Cebu at this stage of the anti-drugs operation campaign of the government,” he said.

Odron said that this was not the first time that this kind of campaign was used.

“It happened before in city of Manila in the late 90s & early part of 2000 during the incumbency of former mayor and Secretary of DILG Alfredo Lim. But it was stopped due to human rights issues involved,” the CHR 7 director said.

In Cebu City, known drug personalities will not be subjected to a shame campaign, Councilor Dave Tumulak assured.

Tumulak, the deputy mayor on police matters, said it is the responsibility of the police and the local government officials to monitor the drug problem in their area.

Besides, he said, the Supreme Court already declared the shaming of suspected criminals unconstitutional since it violates the rights of a person.

Councilor Joel Garganera, on the other hand, is in favor of the shame campaign, saying it will serve as a deterrent.

Shaming known drug personalities, he said, is not a problem if the information was verified by the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

In the Province of Cebu, the chief of the Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CPADAC) yesterday said that a shame campaign is tantamount to “intrusion to privacy”, a violation of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

CPADAC Director Carmen Durano Meca reacted to the shame campaign in Lapu-Lapu City where residential houses were marked “illegal drug users” by the barangay officials. (FMG, JOB, RVC, EOB)