THE Palace on Thursday said it sees nothing wrong with newly appointed Interior Undersecretary Martin Diño’s order for all barangay captains to submit a “nacro list” in their respective villages, a move human rights lawyers condemned as unconstitutional.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that Diño, who was appointed to the job of undersecretary for barangay affairs was simply doing his job.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong for as long as it will entail conduct of an investigation,” Roque said during a Palace news conference.
“It’s just a request to come up with names so they could conduct investigations. It always begins with an investigation.”
“That’s the mandate of the DILG because they have the jurisdiction over local governments.
Roque insisted that critics should allow the DILG to fulfill its duty to maintain peace and order in the country, and said investigations would be conducted to verify allegations against the names on those lists.
Roque added that the public has the right to know who among the members of their communities are allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
“What’s wrong with that? Because people should know, by way of general reputation, who are involved in drugs. I think communities know but it’s not enough for anything. You have to investigate on the basis of these leads,” he said.
Lawyer Gilbert Andres of the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) however, slammed the new order, since it is dangerous for a state to label some of its people as suspected law offenders.
He also said the order violates the Constitution, which states that all suspects must be presumed innocent.
CenterLaw—the same group whom Roque helped found before running for Congress in 2016—said they are considering legal actions against Diño’s directive before the Supreme Court, since only the courts can say if an offender is a criminal or not.
“It is dangerous for the state to make a list of people and label them as suspects,” he said in Filipino.
“The state cannot say, ‘Hey, you’re a criminal’ because only the court can do that.”
Diño, who was eased out his post as chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority after being embroiled in a leadership tug-of-war, said barangay officials would have to submit their lists or face possible dismissal.
“I will ask all the barangays to submit a list of suspected drug pushers, suspected criminals in their respective barangays. This time, there will be a sanction if they don’t submit their lists,” he said.