Po­lice pre­pare to re­sume Oplan Tokhang

The Freeman - - NEWS - Mae Cly­dyl L. Avila/JBB —

Af­ter the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP) has re­sumed full­blown op­er­a­tions against il­le­gal drugs, po­lice in the re­gion are also ready for the re­vival of Oplan Tokhang, or house visi­ta­tions con­ducted to urge iden­ti­fied drug per­son­al­i­ties to sur­ren­der.

Po­lice Re­gional Of­fice in Cen­tral Visayas (PRO-7) said that part of the di­rec­tive from PNP Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Ron­ald Dela Rosa is to con­duct “bet­ter” Oplan Tokhang op­er­a­tions.

Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Jose Mario Espino, di­rec­tor of PRO7, told re­porters dur­ing a press con­fer­ence that po­lice in­tel­li­gence units will dou­ble their ef­forts in val­i­dat­ing ad­dresses of iden­ti­fied drug per­son­al­i­ties.

“Fo­cus on sino yung to­tokhangin na houses, i-sure na ka­pag ki­na­tok namin, there are re­ally per­sons na user, and con­vince them to sur­ren­der. Wala na­mang nabago, con­vince peo­ple who are drug user to sur­ren­der,” Espino said.

Over the year of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte's flag­ship pro­gram to cleanse the coun­try from all forms of il­le­gal drugs, Oplan Tokhang has been sub­ject to pub­lic out­rage due to is­sues of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions.

Espino clar­i­fied that Tokhang is not an anti-il­le­gal drug op­er­a­tion but a house visi­ta­tion, urg­ing the com­mu­nity to en­cour­age af­fected per­sons to sur­ren­der and turn a new leaf, with com­mu­nity-based re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grams.

“Ang Tokhang hindi ibig sabi­hin na you will be killed, hindi po ga­nun. Ang Tokhang is an op­er­a­tion which is house visi­ta­tion of res­i­dences na nire­port ni Barangay Chair­man, na merong drug user dun, at i-en­cour­age natin sila na mag­pare­hab na lang,” Espino said.

He ad­vises drug per­son­al­i­ties to sur­ren­der and not show at­tempts of vi­o­lence or re­sis­tance.

“Ngayon, if ever there is a house visi­ta­tion at nan­la­ban ibang us­apan na din yun,” Espino said.

Espino added that there are no spe­cific changes to the Tokhang op­er­a­tions in the re­gion since old ways proved to be ef­fec­tive.

He said that PRO-7 has pro­duced a rel­a­tively good num­ber of houses reached and num­ber of per­sons who sur­ren­dered.

The lat­est data from PRO7 shows a to­tal of 1,174,148 houses vis­ited, 123,417 per­sons sur­ren­dered, 8,724 op­er­a­tions con­ducted, and 13,500 peo­ple ar­rested, with 228 in­di­vid­u­als who died in po­lice op­er­a­tions, be­tween the pe­riod of July 1, 2016 to Jan­uary 30, 2017, and March 1 – Oc­to­ber 10, 2017.

Sus­pected shabu con­fis­cated reached to 49,597.88 grams worth of P585,254,984.

The PNP had re­lin­quished the author­ity twice and was lim­ited to in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing in the ad­min­is­tra­tion's cam­paign against il­le­gal drugs due to the back­lash and re­ports of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in the con­duct of their op­er­a­tions.

In De­cem­ber last year, the PNP was brought back in to con­duct anti-il­le­gal drug op­er­a­tions with or­ders from Mala­cañang to sup­port the Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency as lead op­er­a­tives, cit­ing the lat­ter's lack of man­power and pub­lic clamor.

Espino pre­vi­ously stated that op­er­a­tions on il­le­gal drugs will be less bloody and more hu­mane.

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