Tokhang 'reload' taps religious leaders


A CAGAYAN de Oro city police official on Monday, March 6, said the Church will be tapped in the new round of Oplan Tokhang or Operation Knock and Plead of the government's anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Chief Inspector Mardy Hortillosa II, spokesperson of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo), said based on orders from higher headquarters, representatives from the religious sector and village officials will be enjoined in the next wave of house visits.

The police re-launched on Monday, March 6, the PNP’s Project Double Barrel reload and Oplan Tokhang 2, a revamped version in the government’s war on drugs.

The order said "Tokhang" activities shall be done with barangay captains and/or barangay officials, church leaders or representatives, and territorial commanders like the chief of police or station commander.

Hortillosa said the police cannot force the religious sector from joining Tokhang operations but said police units cannot proceed with the operation if any of the three religious representatives, barangay officials, commanders, is or are not present.

"Dili oblige ang Church representatives. Walay tokhang kung wala ang usa sa tulo kay dapat kompleto gyud ni nga team (We will not oblige Church representatives but there will be no Tokhang if anyone is not present. All three must be present because they are a team)," Hortillosa said.

Hortillosa said the police will still lead the conduct of the “Tokhang” while the representatives of the Church and village officials will be in the front line of executing the process of the operation by talking to the drug personality and the family.

Hortillosa said this time the police will only provide information and security.

"Ang church and barangay official sila ang mokumbinsi og mohanyo sa drug suspect and police maoy mag-provide og security (The Church and village official will do the talking. The police will only provide security)," Hortillosa added.

"Gi-expect namo nga naa gyud ang church kay apil man sila nagpakabana sa war on drugs aron masiguro sad nga walay abuses nga mahitabo sa tokhang (We expect the Church to be there because they are also stakeholders in the war against drugs. Their presence will also ensure the absence of abuses)," the police official said.

Church representatives are not limited to Roman Catholic priests but also representatives of other religious beliefs.

For his part, Monsignor Perseus Cabunoc, vicar-general of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, said conducting the “Tokhang” is not the role of the Church.

Cabunoc emphasized that the church's role is on the intervention and counseling among drug personalities who responded to "Tokhang."

"Ang simbahan mihatag sa iyang helping hands nga kung naa ma-tokhang ang programa sa recovery diha makig-alalay ug makig-uban ang simbahan( The Church only supports the rehabilitation efforts)," the prelate said.

Cabunoc expressed its worries of the possible danger and misinterpretations once the Church engages in the conduct of the police's "Tokhang."

Cabunoc said the police may want the Church’s participation to deflect potential abuses in the implementation of Tokhang.

"Ang danger mao nga wala masayod ang simbahan sa unsa man ang mamahimong motibo sa tanang operatives. Pananglit naay mamatay tungod anang tokhang. Tungod sa pag-uban sa simbahan mamis-interpret sa gobyerno nga asta ang simbahan niuyon sa pamaagi nga kinahanglan patyon ang usa ka tawo (There is the danger of compromising Church and religious leaders. What if a person gets killed? This may be construed as complicity on the part of the Church in the killings)," Cabunoc said.

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