Lagman: Cops visiting journalists unexpectedly is like 'Oplan Tokhang' | Inquirer News

Lagman: Cops visiting journalists unexpectedly is like ‘Oplan Tokhang’

/ 02:00 PM October 17, 2022
Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel lagman. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / JAM STA ROSA

MANILA, Philippines — The unannounced visits of police officers to journalists’ homes have appeared similar to the past administration’s Oplan Tokhang, where law enforcers check on suspected drug suspects, opposition leader and Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman.

In a statement on Monday, Lagman stressed that what journalists need right now is protection and not an intrusion.
The lawmaker was referring to complaints from some media personalities that individuals in civilian attire identified themselves as police officers checking on reporters’ welfare while asking for other reporters’ photos and addresses.

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“Crusading journalists need police protection from threats and harm, not police intrusion into their privacy,” Lagman said.

“The recent unannounced visits of police officers, mostly in plainclothes, to the homes and studios of selected broadcasters is reminiscent of the intrusive and illicit ‘operation tokhang’ on drug suspects,” he added.

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Oplan Tokhang is a term coined by the former administration’s Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa, which is a contraction of two Visayan words, “toktok” or to knock, and “hangyo” or to plead.

Under Oplan Tokhang, police officers visited the houses of suspected drug dealers, knocking on their doors to check on them during the early stages of the Duterte administration’s drug war. However, Tokhang eventually became similar to drug war killings, leading opposition figures like former vice president Leni Robredo to suggest scrapping the said program.

READ: Robredo calls for scrapping of ‘Oplan Tokhang’

READ: ‘Bato’: What’s wrong with ‘Oplan Tokhang’? 

According to the television news reporter who aired the sentiments last week, police officers also visited the homes of other reporters.

Local and national officials, later on, confirmed to him that the cops’ activities were part of efforts to ensure the safety of media personalities after radioman Percival Mabasa — known as Percy Lapid, who hosted his online program Lapid Fire — was killed by still unknown assailants.

READ: Cop’s visit to journalist’s home stirs media unease

READ: Percy Lapid burial: ‘May his death be like the planting of a seed’

While the intention may be good, several reporters were bothered by the incident. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said the visits only fueled more anxiety in reporters, noting that the coordination should have been done through press clubs, beat offices, or newsrooms.

Several lawmakers have also raised the alarm over the issue, with some mulling the need for an investigation into the issue.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo has apologized for the incident, saying that he has already ordered police to stop the visitations.

“These veiled harassments must be stopped as they constitute attempts at prior restraint on the freedom of expression,” he noted. —with reports from Joshua Go, INQUIRER.net trainee

RELATED STORIES:

Lawmakers alarmed by PNP’s visits to journalists’ homes

Lawmakers push probe of police media visits

JMS/abc

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TAGS: Edcel Lagman, journalists, Oplan Tokhang
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