Police backs off house-to-house drug testing in Quezon City: NUPL

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Screengrab from News5 video showing policemen trying to convince an elderly woman in Payatas to take an unannounced drug test.

MANILA – The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) has hailed the “backing off” by Quezon City police from the issue of house-to- house drug tests in urban poor communities including Barangay Payatas, but said it would hold them accountable nonetheless for harassing the resident.

“Quezon City police district chief PSupt Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar today (Monday) admitted in court that police from QCPD Police Station 6 were overzealous and conducted” the house to house operations, NUPL said.

According to NUPL, “the district chief and station chiefs of Police Stations 6 and 10 were forced to defend and distance themselves from house-to-house surveys and drug tests in the communities, recognizing the serious right violations and their lack of authority.”

As a result, NUPL added, the judge no longer saw the need to issue a temporary restraining order on the house-to-house searches as sought by the residents’ lawyers. The judge “instead chose to proceed on substantial issues for the preliminary injunction.”

In the view of the lawyers’ group, “No doubt this about-face by the police was due to public protests and the legal suit filed by urban poor residents.

“NUPL, which represents petitioners, will hold the police accountable to their public statement, especially with reports that some of the petitioners are being threatened or harassed in their communities or that the police will shift blame on local government officials but would practically be calling the shots themselves.”

The NUPL added its lawyers “will also consider the complicity of barangay officials, should they also be involved in acts that are violative of constitutional rights.”