Opposition backs review of anti-drug campaign

By Inna Gian Mejia, Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Norman V. Mendoza |October 12,2017 - 11:10 PM

Binaliw Barangay Chairman Wilson Bacor (center) shows a sample sticker with a message “This family supports a Drug-Free Community” to Regional Director Arvin A. Odron (left) and Leo Villarino (right) of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR-7) during the meeting with barangay officials.
(CDN Photo/Junjie Mendoza)

SOME Barug Team Rama councilors supported yesterday the decision of Cebu City barangays to temporarily suspend the labeling of “drug-free” houses pending review.

While they were mixed over the campaign initiated by Barangay Ermita, the opposition bloc were unanimous in saying that guidelines should be set that are acceptable to stakeholders especially the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7.

“The shame campaign is a constitutional issue. If they really want to make it more legitimate, the initiative should come from the family. They should volunteer if they want to be labeled,” Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia said.

In last Wednesday’s meeting between the CHR and some barangay officials, it was agreed that the CHR should review the legal implications of the campaign.

It was also agreed that house owners should place the stickers instead of the barangay officials.

And instead of labeling a “drug-free” home or house being a “drug den,” the label should indicate that the family living in the house supports a drug-free community.

Councilor Eduardo Rama Jr. said this is a more positive message while Councilor Pastor Alcover Jr. also said it is better to let the families themselves put up the labels.

“We should encourage residents to attend dialogues for them to understand. If we force the stickers, it may create animosity among the neighbors why one is labeled and the other is not,” Alcover said.

Councilor Garcia said Ermita’s earlier campaign to put up “drug-free” signs in houses is a positive approach and should be commended.

“For me, it’s better to have this positive campaign because you are not branding anyone as being a drug dependent of being in a drug den. You’re giving credit where credit is due. Houses that are not involved in illegal drugs should be rewarded,” he said.

Councilor Joel Garganera, however, said the approach used by Barangay Pajo in Lapu-Lapu City to label suspected drug dens is a better campaign.
He said labeling drug-free barangays takes more time since there are more of them.

Garganera said though that there should still be proper validation before labeling houses as drug dens.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña still supports the campaign done in Barangay Ermita.

“The initial move of Imok (Rupinta) in promoting that was the best thing he has ever done in his barangay in the last 20 years. And then he backs out. Palpak diay? I don’t know,” he told reporters yesterday.

He said though that as long as there are efforts against illegal drugs whether it be the voluntary labeling of houses, it is still a step in the right direction.

As to the tip boxes to be set up by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in each of the city’s 80 barangays, the councilors were also divided.

Councilor Rama said the tip boxes can be used by people to wage a personal vendetta against their neighbors or even their barangay officials. He said there should be guidelines on its use.

Rama said leaks should be prohibited, citing as an example the leaked drug test results of barangay chairman Amilo Lopez who was initially found positive of illegal drug use. Lopez’s confirmatory tests turned out negative.

Councilor Garcia says other crimes can be reported and Councilor Garganera agreed.

“It boils down to validation. There should be assessment and check and balance,” Garganera said. The tip boxes will roll out next month.

In Barangay Pajo, Lapu-Lapu City, Barangay Chairman Junard Chan said he will encourage constituents to label their houses as drug-free.

“That way we won’t be blamed by the CHR since it is the people themselves who are doing it,” he said.

Chan also said they will continue to coordinate with police and sustain their rehabilitation and livelihood programs for drug surrenderers.

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