De Lima: house-to-house drug test among urban poor inaccurate, violates due process

August 24, 2017 - 9:08 PM
PhilStar file photo of Sen. Leila de Lima

MANILA – The house-to-house drug testing being implemented by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Payatas, Quezon City as part of the government’s “massive drug clearing operation” is inaccurate and violates due process, Senator Leila de Lima has warned.

She pointed out that the “do-it-yourself drug testing kit,” used by the police who went around Payatas is inaccurate.

“The poor people are the ones being harassed from all these reckless actions led by our police authorities. This operation is obviously inaccurate and incriminatory because the drug tests were not conducted by accredited people and agency,” she said.

De Lima aired her concern after reading the Facebook account of a pritest detailing the house-to-house drug tests in Payatas – with police simultaneously conducting surveys of residents and asking them for urine samples to confirm whether they are using illegal substances, like shabu and marijuana.

In his Facebook account, the priest Fr. Danny also posted photos showing gates of the houses marked by the police and barangay leaders surveying houses of residents who may have already been tested for illegal drug use.

An article published on Vera Files confirmed the authenticity of Fr. Danny’s post, stating that the random house-to-house drug testing is being carried out by some policemen in coordination with barangay officials to clean up the drug menace for good.

A two-minute video presented by Vera Files shows a teenager being asked to take drug test in lieu of his father who was actually the person the police were looking for. In another house, a grandmother was compelled to submit urine sample but was tested negative for drugs.

Bgy. Kagawad Alejandro Adan, chairman of the barangay’s peace and order committee, confirmed that when found positive, a person’s name is placed on a watch list but was not sure what would happen to him next.

Under Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act, De Lima said all drug tests must be done by “government forensic laboratories or by any of the drug testing laboratories accredited and monitored by the DOH to safeguard the quality of test results.”

While the police and the local leaders consider the drug testing approach as an alternative to killings of suspects, De Lima said it still violates the rights of the poor.

“Barangay Payatas houses thousands of disadvantaged families. By conducting this unauthorized drug testing, people continue to live in fear while the rich and the privileged who are behind the drug cartel enjoy their freedom without being questioned,” she said.

There has been outrage in recent days after the mass killings of drug suspects from poor neighborhoods in Bulacan, Manila and Caloocan. In four days of the anti-drug operations, 80 people were recorded dead, including 17-year-old student Kian delos Santos of Caloocan City.

Since Duterte, who promotes killings as crime prevention, started his all-out war on illegal drugs in July last year, more than 12,000 people have already been killed – both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style executions.

As one of the most vocal critics of the administration, De Lima is detained on what she described as fabricated drug charges to silence her in her vocal opposition to the President’s war on drugs.