Thursday July 19, 2018

Senator slams DILG 'Masa Masid' program as a witchhunt

SENATOR Risa Hontiveros slammed the recent Department of Interior and Local Government's (DILG) order to local government units (LGUs) to set up drop boxes for illegal drug reporting as a "witch hunt."

Describing the initiative as foolish and dangerous, and prone to malice and abuse, Hontiveros further said: "What we expect from the government is a modern, rules-based and human rights-centric drug law enforcement, not witch-hunting."

It was reported that the order came via a DILG memorandum circular dated August 29, which set up the guidelines for the DILG's community-based program in battling criminality and drugs: Masa Masid.

Under the program, the DILG calls on barangays, municipalities, and cities to set up drop boxes to receive information on drug dependents and peddlers.

Hontiveros slammed the program as unilateral and arbitrary and lacking any credible system for vetting, case-building, and exacting accountability.

"Any name can be written down and dropped in the said drop box," Hontiveros said and called the practice as crowd-sourcing possible victims of extrajudicial killings leading to unnecessary deaths when pieces of paper become the sole basis for inclusion in so-called drug lists, arrests, and conduct of police operations against suspected individuals.

Hontiveros said that the individuals whose names are written on pieces of paper could also become vulnerable to threats from vigilante groups.

"What would stop extrajudicial killers and vigilante groups from breaking the drop boxes and getting the submitted names?" Hontiveros added.

Hontiveros said that she will move to realign the P500 million in the proposed 2018 DILG budget from Masa Masid to other important allocations such as strengthening the government's public health approach in addressing the country's drug problem. (SunStar Philippines)