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  Home > Philippines

‘Tokhang’ Returns Under Strict Rules


 January 29th, 2018  |  10:05 AM  |   731 views



Several Officials Implicated In Drugs Seek Palace Help


The Philippine National Police (PNP) is back to hunting down drug suspects through “Oplan Tokhang,” but this time, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the National Police Commission (Napolcom) said anti-drugs operations will be conducted under strict guidelines to prevent unwarranted deaths and to make police accountable for excesses.


DILG Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Eduardo M. Año said yesterday he will keep a close eye on the PNP’s implementation of the new guidelines to ensure that allegations of human rights violations against police officers involved in “Tokhang” (knock and plead) operations will be a thing of the past.


Año vowed to take appropriate actions against police officers violating the recently released guidelines for anti-illegal drug operations.


Even PNP chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, said that improper conduct of Tokhang operations shall be a ground for the immediate relief and filing of appropriate charges.


He said cops assigned to anti-drugs operations have already been given orientation for the new policies.


Clearance requests


Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque confirmed on the eve of the reimplementation of Oplan Tokhang that several local government officials implicated in the illegal drug trade have sought his assistance to help clear their names.


Speaking at a press conference in Iloilo City, Roque said: “I do have requests from a number of local politicians for their names to be cleared. Now what I do know is, all I can do is submit their names with the requests that they be cleared.”


Roque said in one instance, he sent a letter from a local official to PNP Chief and to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).


“I don’t know what transpired as far as that specific local politician is concerned,” he said.


“As you can see, the clearing process dealing with the different law enforcement agencies that have a mandate to participate in the campaign against drugs,” he added.


Roque made the remarks after defending the entry of two mayors from Iloilo implicated by the President to illegal drugs to the ruling PDP-Laban party. He said they were cleared by the police before joining the administration party.


Mayors Alex Centena of Calinog town and Mariano Malones of Maasin town were among the new members of PDP-Laban who recently took their oath.


New guidelines


Under the operational guidelines, Dela Rosa a team composed of four members led by the deputy chief of operations shall conduct the operation from Monday to Friday, between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


The PNP chief said this is to erase the stigma that Tokhang, which previously allowed night operations, is about killing drug suspects but encouraging them to change and turn their backs on illegal drugs.


“With the issuance of these guidelines, we hope that the police organization will be ably guided as they provide active support to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the anti-illegal drugs campaign,” said Año, who is also the concurrent chairperson of the Napolcom.


He noted that the provisions of the newly released PNP guidelines have more weight and demand accountability ensuring that the DILG and Napolcom will impose the these guidelines with diligence.


“It is the cornerstone of a successful campaign against illegal drugs, especially if it is met with the full support and compliance from our uniformed men in the PNP,” said Año.


The DILG chief reiterated his call that double salary means double time in serving the people. “I am demanding accountability from our police officers. With the salary increase, they should shape up or ship out.”


He added that the 100 percent increase in salaries also means that the PNP should double their efforts in weeding out the bad eggs in the police organization.


The guideline includes the observance of command responsibility of every Unit Commander in closely monitoring the undertakings of their subordinates in the conduct of anti-illegal drugs operations.


Every PNP personnel is also bound to report illegal-drugs related activities/personalities within their community to their superior officer and would merit serious neglect of duty if failed to do so.


A “one-strike policy” shall also be implemented if the PNP members under a Chief of Police (COP) is arrested and charged in his/her involvement in illegal drugs by other operating units; when two of more Cops under a Provincial Director (PD) are relieved due to illegal drugs issue; and if two or more PDs/CDs are relieved due to illegal drugs related issues.


“All of these, and other provisions of the PNP’s operational guidelines and adherence to policies on anti-illegal drugs campaign will be closely monitored by DILG and Napolcom as we try to cleanse the ranks of PNP and weed out erring cops,” said Año.


Report excesses


Año also encouraged the public to come forward and not be afraid should there be abuses by the policemen in the conduct of anti-illegal drugs operations.


“Wag po kayong mag-atubili na i-report ang mga pulis na umaabuso sa kanilang tungkulin. Sisiguruhin ko sa inyo na masisibak sila sa tungkulin kapag napatunayang nagkasala sila sa batas (Do not hesitate to report police abuses in the performance of their duties. I assure you, they will be relieved from duty once proven that they had violated the law),” he added.


Año said that alleged abuses can be reported directly to the DILG field offices, Napolcom, or to the People’s Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) nearest to their location.


Prayer for Tokhang


It is the prayer of the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines that police operatives will always follow the law when dealing with drug suspects so as not to waste lives.


CBCP President Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles said this in view of this week’s relaunch of the controversial anti-drug operations of the police.


“We pray that the police follow the prescribed steps in implementing the law… steps that should be done in exercising their responsibility as policemen,” he said in a CBCP News post.


“Let us inspire them to follow the necessary steps when they need to apprehend and as much as possible, we make sure that we do not waste any lives,” Valles added.


Earlier, the revival of Oplan Tokhang drew concern from Kalookan Bishop Pablo David.


This, despite the assurance of Dela Rosa that the Tokhang will be “bloodless.”


According to Bishop David, the killings of alleged drug suspects by “bonnet gangs” never really stopped especially in his diocese when Tokhang was suspended. (With a report from Leslie Ann G. Aquino)




by Chito A. Chavez, Genalyn D. Kabiling, and Martin A. Sadongdong


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