Drop boxes for drug, security threats reporting are ineffective, arbitrary – Karapatan

“The dropbox system will neither solve criminality or ensure security of citizens, nor will it address the roots of rebellion in the country. Such solutions are unreliable and short-sighted, and will merely promote unnecessary paranoia and rifts between and among members of a community. With this dropbox system in the course of the bloody drug war and counter-insurgency programs, anyone may be affected and can be targeted, regardless of guilt or innocence. The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the police are essentially re-creating a hit list, and they are asking everyone to write it for them,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the dropbox system, as among the provisions in the revised Mamamayang Ayaw sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw sa Iligal na Droga (MASA-MASID) guidelines released by the DILG.
The MASA-MASID program, according to its own rationale, “promotes community involvement on corruption, illegal drugs, criminality, violent extremism and other threats to peace and security.” On August 29, 2017, the DILG ordered the setting up of a drop box system to serve as a reporting tool on these concerns. 

“This will be a random, irresponsible and ineffective campaign that can target anyone, not just suspected drug users but even activists and concerned citizens. Even without this drop box system, scores of people have already fallen victim to illegal arrests, how much more if such arbitrary measures are implemented? We have had previous reports of the drug war campaign being used to fast-track counterinsurgency operations, and this scheme will inevitably lead to more similar cases” Palabay said, questioning the string of reasoning that led to such a witless system.

Karapatan’s secretary general cited the recent case in Nueva Vizcaya wherein 5 farmers were illegally arrested by joint military and police elements, and charged with trumped-up cases last September 29, 2017, after being flagged down at a checkpoint. The farmers were members of Kasibu Inter-Tribal Response for Ecological Development (KIRED) & Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa, Inc (SAPAKKMMI), and were active in opposing the large-scale mining operations in the area. 

“Peasant and indigenous human rights defenders are arbitrarily labelled as threats to national security or enemies of the State. This is the reason why there was a safe environment for human rights defenders, activists, and people in the community in general. Now, our bright officials – sarcasm included – cannot seem to stop developing more and more irresponsible schemes that are not only prone to abuses, but will endanger the civil liberties and lives of the Filipino people. The MASA-MASID program, complete with government funding, is a perfect example of another one of the Duterte regime’s measures that is off-target, and completely devoid of any systemic analysis of the socioeconomic factors primarily triggering illicit drug use and trade, criminality or rebellion,” Palabay concluded.