DEPARTMENT of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary for barangay affairs Martino Diño condemned on Monday, February 12, the “hazing-like” punishment of drug surrenderers in a village in Lamitan City in the province of Basilan.

“Itama natin at iayos natin, ‘yung tamang parusa at proseso dapat. Gusto natin na labanan ng mga barangay ang illegal drugs pero dapat sa tamang paraan. Merong proseso at ‘yung proseso dapat yun ‘yung talagang dapat magpapabago ng isang drug dependent dahil tayo naniniwalang may due process,” he said in a telephone interview with SunStar.

"Let us do this right. We want the barangays to fight illegal drugs, but there should be due process.)

A television report showed how barangay officials in Balas, Lamitan City, Basilan hit the drug surrenderers with a paddle.

Barangay chairman Ibrahim Ballaho, in his defense, said it was just a form of punishment to the drug surrenderers in their area. He said the surrenderers are not forced to undergo paddling.

"Para alam niya kung anong mangyayari sa kanya kung uulitin pa niya 'to, ito na yung huling pagkakataon (So that they will know what will happen if they continue to engage in illegal drugs),” Ballaho said.

However, Diño said that even if the drug surrenderers volunteer to undergo paddling, it should still not be done.

“Meron tayong programa ngayon na ‘yung barangay or community based rehabilitation program sa user pwede na man community service, pagwalisin at paglinisin mo ng community o pagkatapos ‘yung value formation seminar na kung saan tuturuan sila ng ating mga religious organizations tapos ang isusunod natin diyan ‘yung tapos isusunod natin dyan yung tesda para yung pagkatapos ng rehabilitation makapagaral sila para sa kanilang hanap buhay kasama na dyan yung DOLE para kapag tapos nilang mag aral sa tesda meron silang hanap buhay,” he said.

“Hindi yung ganyan na sasaktan, pwede nilang ikatanggal sa serbisyo yan. Isa pa ‘yung tungkol sa pusher, hindi yan dapat sa barangay dapat yan sa kulungan dapat yan ihabla meron tayong due process of law, ‘yun ang dapat gawin diyan,” he added.

Dino said he already ordered an investigation into the incident.

The Commission on Human Rights earlier said the infliction of physical pain gained by the drug surrenderers who undergo paddling may be used as grounds for charges of physical injuries, maltreatment, and other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. (SunStar Philippines)