STARTING Monday, January 29, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will resume the conduct of Oplan Tokhang, the visitation of the alleged drug personalities in order to persuade them to stop with their illegal drugs activities and submit themselves to the government for their recovery.
This time, PNP spokesperson Dionardo Carlos said the guidelines for the implementation of Oplan Tokhang are more specific in order to ensure that previous lapses that resulted in the killing of suspected drug personalities will not be repeated.
Police personnel who will implement Tokhang are called “tokhangers.” They were chosen by each police chief to ensure that scalawags are kept out of the operations.
The “tokhangers” underwent orientation and re-training which includes exercises and role playing to ensure they know what to do on the ground.
Each tokhang team will have four members led by a deputy chief of police. They should be in complete uniform.
During the conduct of tokhang, each team should be accompanied by at least one member of the barangay, municipality or city anti-drug abuse council (ADACs), one representative from the PNP human-rights affairs office or any human rights advocate and at least one from the church/religious sector, members of the media or other prominent personalities in the area.
The police chief will also coordinate with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, ADACs and other stakeholders for the conduct of the Oplan Tokhang in their areas of responsibility.
The police chief will also have a free hand in crafting a unique activity plan together with his teams with the guidance of the operational guidelines.
Earlier, PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa said there are different styles of conducting tokhang. He cited that in Cebu, police used to have a funeral car carrying a coffin go around the barangay as they announce a warning against drug use.
Oplan Tokhang is conducted only from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Under the guidelines, teams will visit only the houses of personalities listed on the drugs watchlist. The teams will be allowed to talk only with the house owners or drug personalities themselves outside the residence unless they are invited into the house.
Those on the watchlist are not required to sign any document. If they express an intention to surrender, they will be instructed to proceed to the nearest barangay hall or police station, depending on their choice, along with their relative.
The PNP said the surrenderee will be asked to fill out and sign biographical profile form or any other related documents but taking of photographs including mugshots and other documentation process such as fingerprinting should be voluntarily and not mandatory.
The PNP or the ADACs may also facilitate the enrolment of the surrenderee should they wish to undergo rehabilitation.
“If the subject personality refused to surrender or is hostile, do not engage him/her, instead endorse to the Drug Enforcement Units (DEUs) for the conduct of police operation including case build-up and negation,” the guideline reads.
However, Carlos urged the public to be vigilant and immediately report to the police especially the COPs should the tokhangers violated any of the guidelines.
The PNP has assured that the names on the drugs watchlist were carefully validated by the Directorate for Intelligence (DI) in accordance to Dela Rosa’a order that tokhang operations should be intelligence-driven to avoid violation of human rights.
It said the names included on the list were generated from the list submitted by the ADACs which undergoes strict validation to ensure that the personalities were indeed involved in the illegal drugs transaction.
For those personalities who cannot be located, tokhangers will make necessary actions to remove them from the drugs list in the area of their known address.
The DI, for their part, will adjust its records accordingly and will keep the list of unlocated drug personalities for future reference.
Carlos said the PNP will strictly observe the one-strike policy under the principle of command responsibility should there be any violation to the guidelines for the sake of transparency and to avoid the public from doubting the tokhang activities.
It means the precinct commander will be relieved from post if even only one of his tokhangers failed to properly observe the guidelines while COP, provincial director (PD) and regional director will be relieved if two or more of their precinct commanders, COPs and PDs violated the rules.
The word Tokhang was derived from two Visayan words “Toktok” (knock) and “Hangyo” (plead). The Oplan Tokhang was first used during Dela Rosa’s stint at the Davao police station where his men will visit houses of drug personalities and urged the to turn themselves to the government and quit from their involvement in the illegal drugs.
However, Dela Rosa himself admitted that the Oplan Tokhang, when it was implemented nationwide, is being used by erring policemen for their own benefit particularly for corruption.
The connotation of the word has also changed to killing after number of drug personalities being killed during its conduct has shoot-up and call for human rights violation increases.
At least 3,000 drug personalities have been killed since the administration with the PNP on the lead started its war on drugs.
The PNP has been removed twice but later on returned in the government’s crackdown against illegal drugs due to the involvement of some police officers in the illegal drugs transactions.
With the more specific Oplan Tokhang operational guidelines, Dela Rosa is hoping PNP’s anti-illegal drugs effort will this time be smooth-sailing. (SunStar Philippines)