Editorial: Problematic Tokhang | SunStar

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Editorial: Problematic Tokhang

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Editorial: Problematic Tokhang

Monday, August 01, 2016

Editorial Cartoon by Josua Cabrera

THE Oplan Tokhang (Toktok Hangyo) component of the government's intensified drive against the illegal drugs trade is basically just that: authorities knock on the doors of the houses of suspected drug pushers and users and tell them to reform. Some local government unit (LGU) officials, however, do not knock on doors but merely post announcements pegging the dates when these suspects should surrender.

Tokhang actually rides on the back of the other components of the current anti-drugs drive, which include law enforcers going after suspected drug pushers and users and shooting those that fight back. There have also been killings that the police have disowned and which are attributed to “vigilantes.” The fear sowed has largely been what prompted those “tokhanged” to surrender.

The number of surrenderers so far is relatively small when compared with the estimated number of suspected drug pushers and users in the country but surrenderers have overwhelmed the police and LGUs nevertheless, posing problems. It would have been good that this was anticipated when the launch of Oplan Tokhang was planned, but that is already in the past. The focus now is to make Tokhang work.

Unfortunately, this is something that could not be done by LGUs alone. Involved there are drug abusers, most of whom could not be reformed by mere threats of monitoring, imprisonment or executions. Behavioral changes among drug abusers are the effects mainly of chemicals that need to be purged from the system and whose effects need to be treated. These persons are also at a high risk of relapse.

Most LGUs do not have rehabilitation centers or if they have these are either inadequate or are run by private entities. The Cebu City Government, which does not have such a center, is now thinking of soliciting the help of even the churches. Note that Cebu City is among the bigger urban centers in the country.

While it is obvious that the Duterte administration lacked preparation when it launched the intensified drive against the illegal drug trade, it can still do some catching up. Oplan Tokhang has opened the opportunity for government to attend to one often neglected aspect of any campaign against drug addiction: treatment and rehabilitation.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 02, 2016.

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