New ‘Hitler’in the Philippines
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - September 24, 2017 - 4:00pm

While he was the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman, Bayani “B.F.” Fernando carried out traffic-clearing operations and cleaned up clogged estero that required the removal of informal settlers. More often than not, the forcible demolition and clean up operations by MMDA – backed up by police crowd control units – turned violent and, at times, deadly encounter with defiant informal settlers.

Thus, militants and left-leaning groups branded Fernando as the modern-day Adolf Hitler while he was the MMDA czar from 2002 to 2009.

Hitler, of course, was the notorious Nazi leader who led Germany during World War II when millions of Jews were sent to various concentration camps in Europe and many of them killed in gas chambers.

During last Thursday’s National Day of Protest, militants and left-leaning groups have likened Hitler to President Rodrigo Duterte. The faces of President Duterte, the late dictator and ex-president Ferdinand Marcos, and Hitler were put together in a giant Rody’s Cube that they burned during the rally in Luneta and Mendiola. Like Hitler, they denounced President Duterte for the thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the war against illegal drugs in the Philippines since he took office in June last year.

For all the dramatic effigy burning, Fernando is only too amused to share with President Duterte the same notoriety of earning the tag of Hitler as the world’s most hated personality.

Before he was appointed to the Cabinet of ex-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Fernando served for three consecutive terms as Mayor of Marikina City from 1992 to 2001. It was almost at the same time when President Duterte was Davao City Mayor. So, Fernando shared the same passion of President Duterte as a fellow former local chief executive when they conducted campaigns against illegal drugs in their respective cities.

While he was Mayor, Fernando cited as successful the anti-drug program that instituted “quarantine” in identified areas in Marikina City where there was high incidence of illegal drugs use. At that time, Fernando recalled, police authorities informed him they found out many of the illegal drugs trade emanated in a place called Tumana in Marikina City.

As the Mayor, Fernando sought the legal support from the Marikina City Council to pass an ordinance to impose this “quarantine” to help the local government and police authorities clamp down the source of supply of illegal drugs.

Acting on the request of Fernando, the City Council of Marikina passed in 2000 Ordinance No. 034.

In approving the ordinance, the Marikina City Council invoked Section 458 of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991. Under this specific provision of that law, the Sangguniang Panglungsod, as a legislative body, is empowered to enact ordinances to prevent, suppress, and impose appropriate penalties for drug dens, drug pushing and drug addiction.

As defined by this Ordinance, the quarantine referred to “isolation of a person or a community from the general public when suspected of being or declared as a drug-risk area. To keep out of a community or to confine in particular area for being a drug-risk area in order to ward off potential drug pushers/distributors and users.”

The Ordinance mandated the City Peace and Order Council to declare an area as drug-risk after finding sufficient indicators that there is actual threat or potential of drug-pushing/distributing or using in a particular place. As the designated chief implementing arm of this illegal drugs campaign, the Ordinance ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Marikina to quarantine the “drug-risk” area as declared by the City Council.

The Marikina police was assisted by the Office of the Public Security and Safety of the Marikina City Hall, the barangay captain and his officials, the Bantay-bayan and barangay tanod. “In order to effectively curtail the illegal activities of drug pushing/distributing and using in the premises by quarantine, this group of operatives shall properly cordon the area and set-up a checkpoint at the main entrance thereof where they will accost non-residents or transients seeking entry thereto regarding the purpose of their visit,” the Ordinance stated.   

As the Mayor of Marikina City, Fernando said he provided the logistics and support like the barbed wires, metal railings, signages and “other effects” needed in the quarantine to enclose the entry to and egress from the “drug-risk” area. Fernando credited this “quarantine” anti-drug program he implemented that kept to minimum drug incidence in Marikina City up to now. 

This anti-drug program was not only continued but further enhanced when his wife, Marides Fernando, run and won as Mayor of Marikina. In 2003, the City Council passed Ordinance No. 52 establishing the Marikina Drug-Related Nuisance Board. Among other things, it supervised the quarantine drug risk areas. Invoking Section 52 of RA 9165, or the Dangerous Drug Act of 2002, which “empowers a City, through the enactment of an ordinance, to create an administrative board to hear and decide on cases of drug-related nuisances and cause the abatement thereof.”

According to Fernando, these City Ordinances were never legally challenged and up to now remain in effect in Marikina. Unlike the spray-painting of houses of suspected drug users and pushers done by former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Fernando cited, the drug-risk area quarantine system of Marikina was backed by legal City Ordinances.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) questioned the legality of Mayor Lim’s spray-painting, citing private homes of persons alleged to be drug pushers, in effect, convicted the homeowner as a drug pusher without any due hearing in violation of the constitutional right of due process of law. Challenged before the Court of Appeals, it ruled in 2000 that the shame campaign was “invalid.” The Supreme Court subsequently upheld the CA ruling in 2003.

His exploits as mayor and later as MMDA chief, however, were not enough when he run in the vice-presidential elections in May 2010. He lost to fellow ex-MMDA chief and also ex-mayor of Makati City Jejomar Binay.

Now as Congressman of the first district of Marikina City, Fernando would like to replicate this drug-risk area quarantine system all over the Philippines through a proposed legislation he would file at the 17th Congress.

But the question is will this proposed legislation find support from President Duterte – now tagged as the new “Hitler” in the Philippines?

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