PDEA uses Facebook page to get tips vs drug suspects

Rambo Talabong
PDEA uses Facebook page to get tips vs drug suspects
Senator Leila de Lima flags the page as ‘a license to destroy one’s reputation and personal security’

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) now has a Facebook page dedicated to receiving tips against drug suspects. Anyone can submit a tip.

The Facebook page was flagged by detained Senator Leila de Lima on Saturday, June 20, tagging it as “a license to destroy one’s reputation and personal security.”

“In the wake of a massive surge of fake accounts on Facebook coupled with the lack of regulations on account creation and verification, we can imagine a corresponding spike in the surreptitious and malicious tagging of just any person as a drug personality, whether real or fake, and for whatever reason,” said De Lima, who herself has been detained over controversial drug charges.

The page in question: As early as June 11, PDEA began using a Facebook page called “Isumbong mo kay Wilkins” (Tell it to Wilkins), which is a play on the name of their new chief, Director General Wilkins Villanueva, and the popular public service program ‘Isumbong mo kay Tulfo.’

The page promotes mobile numbers used by the PDEA to receive tips, and also calls on Facebook users to send messages to the page if they have information about drug users. As with tips from other sources, the PDEA is mandated to verify all claims before pushing forward with a criminal investigation.

As of June 20, the page has garnered over 3,000 likes.

Why does this matter? Intelligent gathering of information is the backbone of criminal investigation, and thus, the anti-illegal drugs campaign. Without proper information, law enforcers will fail to make valid arrests and convictions in court.

De Lima pointed out that the government has alloted P500 million in confidential funds for 2020 and that the money should be put to better use. (READ: Duterte’s office has highest confidential, intel funds in proposed 2020 budget)

Rappler has sought comment from the PDEA. The agency has yet to reply as of posting.

Deja vu: The page harks back to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)’s Masa Masid program, which recognized dropboxes as a legitimate medium to gather tips in the government’s anti-drug campaign.

After the dropbox was slammed by the public and various public officials, the DILG dropped the project, but some local government units pushed through with using them, including Quezon City.

As of January 1, 2020, the Philippine government counts 5,601 have been killed in anti-drug operations. Human rights groups estimate, however, that around 30,000 killings have occurred related to what the administration has branded as a “drug war”, including killings outside police operations. – Rappler.com

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.