By JOEY NACALABAN
THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Region 10 on Thursday cautioned members the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency about plans to go public with a supposed list of barangay officials suspected to have links to illegal drug activities.
Lawyer Jeanne Ivy Abrina, CHR regional director, said the PDEA should not accuse and condemn anyone for committing crime without trial.
“They should be reminded that by revealing the names of these individuals, they might violate the presumption of innocence and the right to due process,”Abrina said.
She also warned that any official or PDEA member who goes public with the list would be opening himself or herself to cases such as libel.
Abrina said that if PDEA has enough evidence against the barangay officials, then it should go to court.
Without evidence and trial, she said, what PDEA plans to do is merely “public shaming” which would be in violation of those in the supposed list.
“What if na expose na iyang ngalan and then napamatud-an nga wala diay siya gapamaligya o gagamit sa iligal nga druga? Mabalik pa kaha sa iya ang iyang dignidad?” Abrina asked rhetorically, adding that all citizens have a right to a fair trial.
Abrina said that while the CHR recognizes the right of citizens to scrutinize the private and public lives of candidates to the barangay and youth council elections, the government should refrain from actions that have no legal basis.A PDEA known to reporters for the assumed name “Ben Calibre,” said the Agency would be careful in not being used by politicians.
Calibre said he was unsure if the PDEA regional office is authorized to publicly reveal the names in the list.
“Ang amo lang diri careful lang mi anang lista-lista kay basin gamiton lang mi sa ilang politika,” Calibre said.
Calibre said the PDEA has been receiving information about the alleged participation of barangay politicians in illegal drug activities. Some, he said, are accused to being drug users, pushers or even protectors of groups that are into illegal drugs. He said PDEA doesn’t jump to conclusions. Rather, he said, investigators would normally do check and validatation work.
There are 300 names of politicians in Region 10 who are allegedly involved in illegal drugs based on PDEA’s list, he said.