'Oplan Tokhang' nets 6,869 drug users, pushers in Eastern Visayas

CATBALOGAN CITY -- At least 6,869 drug users and pushers in Eastern Visayas voluntarily surrendered, as the Philippine National Police (PNP) has intensified its nationwide anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Police Chief Superintendent Elmer Cruz Beltejar, acting director of the Police Regional Office-Eastern Visayas, said on July 11 that among those who surrendered were 6,011 drug users and 858 drug peddlers.

The police conducted the house-to-house "Tokhang" (toktok-hangyo) from July 1 to 10.

Tokhang is a program that was first implemented in Davao City where the police knock on the doors of suspected drug traders and ask them to stop their illegal trade. It is part of the Oplan Double Barrel, an initiative of the new PNP chief, Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

Beltejar said the Oplan Double Barrel has two approaches: "Tokhang" and "High-Value Target," which targeted drug users and pushers who are heeding the government's all-out war against the prohibited drugs.

"Hindi kami titigil hanggat hindi nasusugpo ang illegal na droga dito sa buong rehiyon (We will not stop until we eliminate the illegal drug use in the whole region)," said Beltejar.

He said the surrenderees submitted themselves to local officials and policemen, and pledged not to use and sell illegal drugs, which are proven to be the root cause of many heinous crimes in the society.

"They were not detained but we will closely monitor them. We anticipate more to surrender in the coming days and I encourage our public to continue supporting our fight against illegal drugs," Beltejar added.

"The PNP anti-drug campaign operations have no timeline and it will never stop until said menace is totally eradicated in the region," Beltejar added.

In Catbalogan City, the police warned those who surrendered but then returned to their illegal activities, as they will then be the subject of the PNP's Oplan HVT (High-Value Target).

Around 20 percent of the users and pushers of illegal drugs returned to their illegal drugs trade, "(perhaps because they thought that we will be lenient in our monitoring, but we are not, this is a very serious matter," said Police Superintendent Edwin Barbosa, chief of police of Catbalogan City in Samar.

Under the Oplan Double Barrel, drug-recidivists will be considered as HVT and become targets of search warrants, among other police operations.

"Kapag nanlaban pa sila, alam na nila ang mangyayari sa kanila (If they will continue to resist, they know what will happen to them)," Barbosa added.

The Catbalogan police posted on their Facebook page a photo of a dead rat along with a piece of paper with a note that says, "Drug pusher ako, wag tularan." The post draw mixed reactions from netizens.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports said that one of the identified drug pushers who surrendered to the police also returned some P400,000 worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu."

The PNP regional office said it will conduct in the coming days a surprise drug test to all policemen in the region. (Sunnex)
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