Robredo calls for scrapping of ‘Oplan Tokhang’
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo has suggested the creation of a new anti-drug campaign to replace “Oplan Tokhang” during the meeting of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) on Friday which she had presided.
Robredo told ICAD members who are heads of various government agencies that the prime anti-drug program has reached a level where it has been equated to unnecessary killings.
“Because of the many senseless killings that accompanied Operation Tokhang, parang naka-reach siya ng certain level of notoriety na kapag sinabing Tokhang it is a war against the poor,” the Vice President said.
“I think it is incumbent upon us to na mabago ‘yong kaisipan na ‘yon,” she added. “Baka panahon na para pag-isipan natin ‘yong pagpalit ng isang kampanya na mas epektibo pero walang namamatay senselessly.”
[Maybe it is already time that we think of changing the anti-drug campaign into one which is effective but will not involve killing senselessly.]
Robredo, who called for the ICAD meeting, previously said that one of her considerations when she accepted the ICAD post was the chance to save the lives of innocent drug suspects. As of July 2019, authorities said that over 5,500 were killed in legitimate police anti-drug operations.
“Tokhang” is a contraction of the words “katok” or to knock, and the Visayan word “hangyo” or to plead. The term was coined by Senator Ronald dela Rosa when he was chief of the Phiippine National Police.
Robredo said the efforts of the agencies, which are aimed towards the good aspects of the drug war, are all wasted with killings that give the program a negative image.
“Everyone has been contributing to this pero ‘yong sa akin ‘pag nagkakaroon kasi ng senseless killings, nadi-diminish ‘yong mga pagod na ibinubuhos natin dito,” she explained.
“That’s where I stand now, as I have said, we still have many days ahead of us, but this afternoon is really a listening exercise for me,” she said.
Before Robredo and Aquino addressed the ICAD members, the two exchanged pleasantries inside Robredo’s office at the Quezon City Reception House.
Questions about their possible working relations were raised after Aquino said Robredo would fail in solving the drug campaign. Robredo said on Thursday she did not take it personally, and any rumors may have been squashed as the two walked to the meeting together.
Aside from Robredo and Aquino, the meeting was attended by other ICAD members including Dangerous Drugs Board head Catalino Cuy, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa and Bureau of Corrections chief Director General Gerald Bantag. /muf
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