Pastors, priests can join Oplan Tokhang if needed

SENIOR Superintendent Rodolfo Castil Jr., provincial director of Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Nocppo), said that members of the religious sector can join the police during Oplan Tokhang, only if necessary.

Castil said the police have a good relationship with the religious sector in the province.

They will be allowed to go with the Tokhang team if there is a need for spiritual intervention during house visits to suspected drug personalities, he added.

“We do not practice bringing of Bible and rosary during house-to-house visitation here,” Castil said.

Last Monday, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa said he was offended by the "theatrics" remark made by the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the implementation of the modified Oplan Tokhang.

The CBCP made such remark after they learned that Tokhanger teams of the Eastern Police District (EPD) carry copies of the Bible and rosaries as they visit the homes of suspected drug personalities.

Castil said that even without priests or pastors, the Tokhang team abides with the new guidelines of Oplan Tokhang (Toktok-Hangyo) which means “knock and plead" (make a polite request to surrender or stop using drugs).

“We make sure that the team talks to identified drug suspects politely and persuade them to surrender the right way without violence,” he added.

Castil said there are limitations as to how far religious leaders can go with law enforcers because there are areas that may be dangerous for them.

He added that the religious sector is helping the police in their campaign against illegal drugs with the creation of Bless Our Cops (BOC) Movement Inc. initiated by Chief Superintendent Cesar Binag, regional director of Police Regional Office (PRO)-Western Visayas.

Senior Inspector Armilyn Vargas, public information officer of Bacolod City Police Office, said they do not also practice bringing the religious leaders during the Oplan Tokhang operation.

“Let the Church to do their part,” she added.

The police will persuade drug personalities to surrender without any harm, Vargas said.
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