PNP assures public ‘Oplan Tokhang’ won’t be abused if revived
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) promises not to abuse “Oplan Tokhang” if ever the controversial campaign against illegal drugs is revived.
PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo neither confirmed nor denied the return of Oplan Tokhang, but acknowledged past police abuses in carrying out the government’s anti-drug program.
“Hintayin po natin ang official statement po kung talagang magkakaroon ng revival nito, but kung saka-sakaling mare-revive ito, malaki po ang magiging papel po ng nitong ating mga barangay drug abuse council para magkaroon din po ng check and balance at magkaroon ng proper monitoring, at sila rin po mag i-identify sino ba magiging subject ng ating mga house visitation at we will make sure na hindi ito maaabuso kung sakasakaling i-revive po ulit,” Fajardo explained in an interview over DZMM Teleradyo’s program Sakto.
(Let us wait for the official statement if it is revived, but if ever it happens, the role of barangay drug abuse councils will be big so that there will be checks and balances and proper monitoring, and they will also be the ones to identify who will be subject to our house visitation to make sure that it will not be abused should it be revived.)
According to Fajardo, the PNP regularly assesses past anti-drug operations’ successes.
“Nagkakaroon po ng periodic evaluation at assessment, at ‘yung mga best practices po ng nagdaang panahon ay pwedeng i-konsidera at i-revive kung nakikita nating effective pero in the case po of Operation Tokhang, alam naman po natin, sir, na naging epektibo po ito,” said Fajardo.
(A periodic evaluation and assessment is being conducted, and the past best practices may be considered and revived if they are seen as effective, but in the case of Operation Tokhang, we already know that it was effective.)
Oplan Tokhang started during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who advocated a brutal war on drugs.
Data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency showed that Duterte’s “drug war” left 6,215 people dead, but critics and human rights defenders said the figure is higher – possibly around 20,000.
Last month, Human Rights Watch asserted that the PNP has been downplaying the number of deaths during anti-drug operations conducted under the current administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The University of the Philippines Third World Studies Center said 127 people were killed in the government’s anti-drug campaign from July 1 to November 7, but PNP Chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said the tally was only 46 – which was “very minimal.”
Revival of Oplan Tokhang during the Marcos Jr. administration was raised when Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, a former PNP chief, recommended its restoration amid the alleged return of brazen drug traffickers and syndicates which may put the Philippines at risk of relapsing into a scary state.