Babag of­fi­cials in­ten­sify anti-il­le­gal drug cam­paign

Cebu Daily News - - NEWS - by Nor­man V. Men­doza and Miguel Ernest Er­mac COR­RE­SPON­DENTS /WITH MOREXET T E MARIE B. ERRAM AND USJ-R I NT ERN PA­TRI­CIA ERLAINE LUARDO

In­spired by Barangay Pajo’s ag­gres­sive anti-il­le­gal drug cam­paign, an­other vil­lage in Lapu-Lapu City has launched a sim­i­lar cam­paign but mi­nus the “sham­ing.”

Babag Barangay Cap­tain Epi­fa­nia Au­gusto led her coun­cilors and vil­lage work­ers in go­ing around the vil­lage to warn res­i­dents about the il­le­gal drug men­ace.

But in­stead of spray-paint­ing the doors of iden­ti­fied drug dens in the vil­lage sim­i­lar to what Pajo Barangay Cap­tain Ju­nard “Ahong” Chan did, Au­gusto took to post­ing writ­ten warn­ings in pub­lic places such as wait­ing sheds, schools and cov­ered courts.

“I re­ally ad­mire the an­tidrug cam­paign that Capt. Ahong Chan did in his barangay, but we also saw that it wasn’t some­thing that the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights ap­proved of,” Au­gusto said in Ce­buano.

Tarpaulins in­stalled by Babag of­fi­cials across the vil­lage bore signs like “In drugs, you won’t get old; in­stead it will kill you.” Other ban­ners said “Let’s give hugs not drugs” and “Let’s make Barangay Babag a drug free barangay.”

Au­gusto said that while post­ing drug aware­ness signs may not be very ef­fec­tive in curb­ing the drug men­ace, it will at least show the se­ri­ous­ness of Barangay Babag’s an­tidrug cam­paign.

“We are not afraid of the drug per­son­al­i­ties in our barangay, but we are also look­ing at their hu­man rights,” she said.

Barangay Babag counts 131 drug sur­ren­der­ers since Jan­uary this year, and Au­gusto hopes to have more.

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza com­mended Au­gusto’s drug aware­ness cam­paign ini­tia­tive.

“I’m urg­ing other barangays to come out and also do their in­ten­si­fied drug aware­ness cam­paign and work to make their barangays drug free,” said Radaza.

Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (CHR) Re­gional Di­rec­tor Arvin Odron told CEBU DAILY NEWS that a team from their of­fice will be de­ployed to Lapu-Lapu City to as­cer­tain if laws pro­tect­ing hu­man rights are be­ing ob­served by vil­lage of­fi­cials.

“We are like­wise study­ing whether pub­lic sham­ing will fall un­der ‘in­hu­mane or cruel treat­ment’ pro­hib­ited and pun­ished un­der RA 9745,” said Odron in a text mes­sage to CDN.

“How­ever praise­wor­thy or noble the in­ten­tion of the gov­ern­ment in erad­i­cat­ing the drug men­ace, if the process in which hu­man rights of the sus­pects are tram­pled, such would be un­ac­cept­able in a demo­cratic so­ci­ety such as ours,” he said.

“Un­der the hu­man rights stan­dards, the means do not al­ways jus­tify the ends,” Odron added.

Cebu Gover­nor Hi­lario Da- vide III, for his part, de­nounced the shame cam­paign con­ducted by Barangay Pajo of­fi­cials against sus­pected drug per­son­al­i­ties there.

Da­vide, in an in­ter­view with Capi­tol re­porters, warned that sham­ing iden­ti­fied drug users and sell­ers by paint­ing their doors with the words “Iden­ti­fied Drug Dens,” may ex­pose the of­fi­cials to li­bel charges for such dras­tic ac­tion.

“Un­less there’s proof, the ac­cused can file li­bel com­plaints. Th­ese gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are al­ready at­tribut­ing some of­fenses or crime to the per­son or the group,” said Da­vide.

CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MEN­DOZA

Of­fi­cials of Babag, Lapu Lapu City, headed by Barangay Cap­tain Epi­fa­nia Au­gusto, ac­com­pa­nied by po­lice­men and mem­bers of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Coun­cil, launch a mas­sive anti-drug aware­ness cam­paign by post­ing friendly re­minders ban­nered across pub­lic places.

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