A new tactic launched by the Philippine National Police (PNP) may add to the thousands of killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, international human rights advocates said.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), in its dispatch entitled “Deadly Drop Boxes Fuel Philippine’s ‘War on Drugs”, said there is a “sinister tactic” in its ‘murderous’ war against illegal drugs.
Under this so-called “new neighborhood informant system”, police put up public drop boxes in barangays and neighborhoods consenting residents to secretly submit names of alleged drug dealers and users. People whose names end up in a drop box would be placed on police drug watch lists.
HRW said the tactic was first reported in July in Quezon City and has spread to Roxas City, Pontevedra and Maayon in Capiz.
“The police chief of Quezon City said when he launched the system that he would put one drop box in each of the city’s 142 barangays or neighborhoods. In one sense, the boxes could be called a success,” the human rights watchdog said.
“In Roxas City, anonymous informants slipped in the names of 36 of their neighbors in the first two weeks after it opened in late August. Police in the towns of Pontevedra and Maayon in Capiz province have also installed the boxes, and plans are underway for a drop box inside City Hall in Iloilo City,” HRW added.
HRW also said local authorities have even called on the Catholic Church to install drop boxes in its churches in and around Iloilo City and nearby areas.
The Commission on Human Rights (HRC) lambasted the system, citing its potential for “fueling arbitrary arrests” and for the fear of its tendency to add to the drug-related killings.
Human Rights Watch said its research shows that police drug watch lists are routinely used to identify targets for extrajudicial execution by police or their agents.
“After 15 months and untold bloodshed, the government and police should stop their abusive war on drugs and allow an international investigation into the killings, rather than actively seek to increase the number of its victims,” HRW added.