PDEA: ‘Tokhang’ to resume in drug-affected barangays in post-pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), on Friday said it will resume “Oplan Tokhang” in drug-affected barangays after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Mayroon pa kaming totokhangin na local government units na yet to implement and that will follow right after sa COVID,” PDEA Director General Wilkins said in a Real Numbers PH press conference in Quezon City commenting on questions about the updates of the agency’s drug clearing program.
(We will still implement Oplan Tokhang at some local government units which are yet to implement and will follow right after the COVID.)
“Sa ngayon, mahirap makipagsabayan sa COVID. Right after ng COVID doon kami mag-start ng Tokhangan,” he added.
(For now, it isn’t easy to deal with COVID. Right after the pandemic, we will start with the Tokhang.)
Villanueva admitted that some drug clearing programs by local government units have slowed down because of the focus on COVID-19 response.
“Medyo bumagal ang barangay clearing operations natin dahil sa pandemic. Ang local government ay naging busy doon sa COVID so yung rehabilitation program medyo na-i-stymie (impeded) but it will not stop us from clearing barangays,” Villanueva said.
(Our barangay clearing operations slowed down because of the pandemic. The local governments also became busy because of COVID-19, so our rehabilitation program was stymied. But it will not stop us from clearing barangays.)
The anti-narcotics chief said he has already coordinated with the Philippine National Police (PNP) on focusing their operations back to curbing illegal drugs in barangays.
“Napagusapan namin ni chief PNP (Gen. Camilo Cascolan) na talagang didiretso sa barangay. Bakit? Kasi ang droga kahit san galing, sa China man ‘yan galing man ‘yan sa Golden Triangle, galing man sa Africa, sigurado, sa barangay lalanding,” Villanueva said.
(PNP chief and I talked about this that we will go to barangays. Why? Because drugs, even if it’s from China or the Golden Triangle or Africa, I am sure it will land at the barangays.)
As of Aug. 31, PDEA said 20,165 out of 42,045 barangays had been cleared of illegal drugs since the government’s bloody drug war started in July 2016.
From July 2016 to Aug. 31, PDEA also disclosed that 5,856 drug suspects were killed in anti-drug operations.
‘What is Tokhang’
Villanueva also clarified that Oplan Tokhang means visiting suspected drug users in their homes to encourage them to submit to a drug abuse prevention program.
“Sa totoo lang ano, to let everybody know, itong barangay clearing project, ako sumulat niyan. Nung time ni Mayor Duterte (former Davao City Mayor Duterte) nung mayor pa siya at regional director ako sa Region 11 (Davao Region) at doon nagstart ng ‘Tokhang’ pero hindi Tokhang. Ang tawag dun, house visitation,” Villanueva, who is also the former director of PDEA’s office in Northern Mindanao, said when sought for details about his version of Oplan Tokhang which is tagged as the program that killed small drug pushers.
(To let everybody know, this barangay clearing project, I wrote that. During the time of Mayor Duterte when he was a mayor and I was a regional director, that is when I started the Tokhang, but it was not called Tokhang then. It was called house visitation.)
“Para saan ang Tokhang? That house visitation is just letting the people in the house, kung nasaan ang bahay ng drug personality, na masabi, ‘Hey Pedro ikaw nasa listahan namin drug user, pumunta ka lang sa barangay at bibigyan ka ng intervention program.’ Yun lang naman purpose ng Tokhang. After that, wala ng Tokhang tapos na,” he added.
(What is Tokhang for? That house visitation is letting people in the house know and say “Hey Pedro, you are on our list for drug users, go to the barangay and they will give you an intervention program.” That is the purpose of Tokhang. After that, it’s over, no more Tokhang.)
Luzon, Visayas most affected by narcotics
Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, Villanueva said areas that have the presence of illegal drugs are mostly from Visayas and Luzon.
“Luzon-based pa rin ang marami. Kung titignan natin ‘yung Mindanao kakaunti na lang ang affected. Nandito sa Luzon at Visayas ang marami na affected barangays,” he said, reacting to a question about the areas which are mostly affected by narcotics.
(Mostly are Luzon-based. If we look at Mindanao areas, only a few of them are affected. Luzon and Visayas have the most affected barangays.)
He also noted that villages in big and rich cities usually have activities involving illegal drugs.
“Karamihan pa rin ang affected barangays, andito sa malaking lungsod, particularly itong metropolis. Nandito pa rin yung mga naiiwang affected barangays ng ating bansa,” he said.
(Most affected villages are from the big cities, particularly the metropolis. Affected villages remain in these areas.)
“Kung nasaan ang pera, nandiyan ang droga at kung ang barangay mo ang lungsod mo maraming pera, definitely, ang barangay mo affected pa rin,” Villanueva added.
(If there is money, there are drugs and if your village or city has money, definitely, your village is affected.)
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