‘Tokhang’ reso vs ‘left-leaning personalities’ is ‘illegal, unconstitutional’ — NUPL
MANILA, Philippines — The resolution directing the conduct of “Oplan Tokhang” style operations against left-leaning personalities in the government, media and other entities is “illegal and unconstitutional,” the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said Thursday.
NUPL was reacting to Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee-Cordillera Administrative Region (RLECC-CAR) Resolution No. 04 s. 2021, which enjoins members of law enforcement agencies, together with representatives of local government units, “to conduct ‘Tokhang’ to known left-leaning personalities in the government, media and other entities.”
“This Resolution is patently illegal and unconstitutional..,” NUPL said in a statement.
The NUPL cited several reasons in saying that the resolution is unconstitutional.
For one, the NUPL said the resolution’s profiling of “left-leaning personalities” as “supporters” or “active members of CPP-NPA-NDF” or any of its “front organizations” is a “brazen act of red-tagging that threatens the right to life, liberty and security of these individuals.”
“It equates the causes and advocacies of these ‘left leaning personalities’ to ‘insurgency,’ ‘Marxist-Maoist inspired rebellion’ or security threats that may be addressed by law enforcement authorities, in violation of the fundamental right to due process,” the NUPL said.
The resolution, NUPL said, also authorizes law enforcers to intrude into the homes of activists and critics, and to interrogate and coerce them to “return to the fold” of law.
“This witch-hunt will result in serious transgressions of the right to privacy, right to personal liberty and the right against self-incrimination,” the NUPL said.
Further, the NUPL said the resolution also exposes those who will refuse to cooperate with authorities to “harsher police action and acts of reprisal in the form of trumped-up charges or nuisance suits.”
“It sanctions the violation of the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of expression and of association by enabling law enforcers to harass, intimidate and threaten critics and activists from pursuing their advocacies,” the NUPL said.
“It rests on the erroneous premise that the ‘insurgency problem’ will be addressed by stifling dissent and infringing upon liberties using the same operational measures that have resulted in the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug offenders,” it added.
The resolution will also promote impunity as it “provides a license or legal basis for law enforcers to blatantly violate human rights”, the NUPL said.
The resolution stated that a “concerted effort” among all member agencies of RLECC and stakeholders was needed “to address the insurgency problem” in the region.
“Oplan Tokhang,” which is being implemented to combat proliferation of illegal drugs in the country, has been one of the most controversial programs of the Duterte administration.
The strategy is now being blamed for hundreds of cases of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects who had been visited at home by police and ended up getting killed in what police said were “nanlaban” (he fought back) situations or those in which the suspects fought back.
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