PNP's Oplan Tokhang, Week 1: No deaths so far

By Emmanuel Tupas

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From January 29 to February 1, a total of 2,127 Tokhang activities were conducted that resulted in the surrender of 821 suspected drug personalities. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — There has been no fatality, but over 800 drug suspects have surrendered nationwide during the relaunching of “Oplan Tokhang” this week, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported yesterday.

From Jan. 29 to Feb. 1, a total of 2,127 Tokhang activities were conducted that resulted in the surrender of 821 suspected drug personalities.

“No casualties were recorded as of the fourth day of Tokhang activities in 17 regions around the country,” PNP spokesman Chief Supt. John Bulalacao said in a press conference.

Bulalacao said this shows the people are cooperating with the government in its campaign to solve the country’s drug problem.

“The total number of surrenderers reached as high as 821 so this is almost 50 percent of the total number Tokhang activities, which manifest the people are now cooperative or responsive to the efforts of the PNP,” said Bulalacao.

A majority of those who surrendered were recorded in Nothern Mindanao with 424 and the Zamboanga peninsula with 318.

The PNP relaunched last Monday Tokhang, Cebuano words for knock and plead.

Oplan Tokhang was credited for the surrender of more than 1 million drug pushers and addicts since the program was launched last year.

However, Tokhang was suspended last year following allegations of irregularities committed by police scalawags.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa earlier said they put stringent measures to ensure their tokhangers are of good moral character and not involved in any irregularities.

Meanwhile, some 46 drug suspects were killed during alleged gunfights with policemen in 3,253 anti-drug operations from Dec. 5, 2017 to Feb. 1, 2018.

During the same period, 4,968 drug suspects were arrested nationwide.

On the latest survey of Social Weather Stations (SWS) that the number of drug users in the Visayas and Mindanao increased by three percent each,

Bulalacao said it is an indication they have exerted more efforts in their anti-drug campaign.

Senators said the PNP should enforce strict guidelines on the use of body cameras by police anti-drug enforcers, including raids and the so-called Oplan Tokhang.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian commended Dela Rosa for finally ordering the acquisition of body cams, which the senator described as a promising development in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

“Implementation of a strict body cam policy will go a long way toward institutionalizing transparency and accountability in the government’s fight against illegal drugs,” Gatchalian said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto earlier said the PNP could have acquired body cameras last year, if only it had prioritized these over dogs that cost half-a-million pesos each.

While there was already public clamor for policemen to wear body cams during anti-drug sweeps, the PNP omitted these in their request, choosing instead 48 bomb-sniffing dogs with a price tag of P511,672 each last year.

Recto said Congress had authorized the PNP to spend P334 million in the 2018 national budget for body cams to be worn by police officers.

He said the PNP should expedite their procurement and check other items in the equipment, the acquisition of which is funded under this year’s General Appropriations Act. – Paolo Romero

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