Police prepare to resume Oplan Tokhang
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.