Philippine Daily Inquirer - - REGIONS - By Maricar Cinco @mari­carcin­coINQ

SAN PE­DRO CITY— Vil­lage chiefs in La­guna prov­ince pre­ferred us­ing mo­bile phones as means for cit­i­zen crime re­port­ing, rather than col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion about drug and crime sus­pects through drop boxes.

Ac­cord­ing to Lorenzo Zuñiga, pres­i­dent of the League of Barangay Cap­tains in La­guna, said pro­tect­ing the tip­ster’s “anonymity” would be a prob­lem when he or she sub­mit­ted sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion through a drop box.

“Where would you sit­u­ate the drop box? Say in barangay (vil­lage) halls, peo­ple would still see you once you drop (a sheet of pa­per con­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion),” Zuñiga said.

The Depart­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment (DILG) re­cently or­dered cities, towns and vil­lages to cre­ate “modes of re­port­ing” in an ef­fort to en­gage com­mu­ni­ties in fight­ing crime and il­le­gal drugs.

One of the rec­om­men­da­tions is the in­stal­la­tion of a drop box where cit­i­zens may drop in­for­ma­tion on leads on crime sus­pects.

Manuel Go­tis, DILG re­gional di­rec­tor in Cal­abar­zon (Cavite, La­guna, Batan­gas, Rizal, Que­zon), said no lo­cal gov­ern­ment in the re­gion had put up a drop box.

He said the agency was wait- ing for guide­lines from the DILG cen­tral of­fice on howthe mech­a­nism would be im­ple­mented.

Ru­ral vil­lages

Zuñiga, also the league’s na­tional sec­re­tary gen­eral, said the mech­a­nism, which alarmed hu­man rights groups and an op­po­si­tion sen­a­tor, might not work well in nonur­ban vil­lages with tighter com­mu­ni­ties.

“I think that might be ap­pli­ca­ble in ar­eas with big­ger pop­u­la­tions, but not here in the ru­ral vil­lages where ev­ery­one knows ev­ery­one,” he said.

“Baka lagyan lang ng chew­ing gum ’yan (They might just use the box as a chew­ing gum bin),” he said.

Zuñiga said that in his vil­lage of 500 house­holds in Alaminos town in La­guna, they had been get­ting tips from cit­i­zens through text mes­sages.

He cited an in­stance when au­thor­i­ties ar­rested a per­son, whomit turned out was the sub­ject of an ar­rest war­rant. The tip came from a text mes­sage sent by an un­known sender.

Ac­cord­ing to Zuñiga, anony­mous in­for­ma­tion is ver­i­fied by vil­lage of­fi­cials and the lo­cal po­lice be­fore any ac­tion is taken.

“You can achieve the same pur­pose by post­ing sev­eral posters (in­di­cat­ing phone num­bers where to re­port),” he said.

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