DILG agrees to ditch its tokhang drop boxes

The Department of Interior and Local Government on Wednesday said that they are “willing to drop the box” as a response to Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros’ call to remove the “highly irregular” mechanism of anonymously reporting alleged drug dependents and criminals.

During the period of interpellations for the 2018 budget of the DILG, Hontiveros asked the department how it can ensure that the information they are receiving from the drop boxes were not manufactured. “How can the government avoid the names of innocent people from being dropped in the boxes?”

“I strongly suggest that the DILG eliminate the dropboxes from its anti-drugs campaign. It will only be prone to malice and abuse and could even lead to unnecessary deaths. What says the department’s good sponsor?“ Hontiveros asked.

Senator JV Ejercito, who is the sponsor of the DILG’s budget, said that the DILG and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were amenable in shelving the controversial drop box mechanism. The Senator moved to put on record the DILG’s commitment to remove the proposed mechanism.

“Yes, Mr. President, we are listening, the DILG and PNP officials are here and they are willing to drop the box,” replied Ejercito.

Hontiveros welcomed the decision of the DILG. “I would like to thank the DILG and the good sponsor for responding positively. Now that’s thinking outside the box,” she remarked.

It was reported that the DILG issued Memorandum Circular 2017-2012 on August 29, which set up the guidelines for the DILG’s community-based program in battling criminality and drugs: Masa Masid. Under the program, the DILG calls on barangays, municipalities, and cities to set up drop boxes to enable the public to anonymously report alleged drug dependents, peddlers and other criminals.

The drop box mechanism was severely criticized by the legal and human rights communities. Akbayan, Hontiveros’ political party, called it a “raffle draw for killings.” “The more entries you send, the more chances of killing,” the political party said. (PNA)

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