Mandaluyong condos next ‘Tokhang’ target
The Eastern Police District (EPD) and the Mandaluyong police are setting their sights on condominiums and subdivisions in the city as the next targets of the “Oplan Tokhang” antidrug campaign, a move spurred by the discovery of P1.5-million worth of party drugs in a condo unit last week.
In a dialogue held Thursday with subdivision owners, condo administrators and real estate developers, EPD director Chief Supt. Romulo Sapitula said the police are seeking their cooperation in the implementation of a “modified” Tokhang in their buildings and communities.
Launched during the first few days of the Duterte administration, the campaign sends out policemen to the homes of known drug users or pushers in a neighborhood, knocking on their doors to compel them to “surrender” and be documented. The officers base their targets on a list provided by barangay officials.
But while forcing many residents in slum areas to surrender by the hundreds, the police have yet to apply the same method to upscale, gated villages, where instead they would just distribute leaflets about the drug menace.
“If the homeowners will not allow us, we will respect their rights… we will just distribute leaflets,” Sapitula said during Thursday’s dialogue, where the condo owners and administrators were asked to sign an agreement with the police. The EPD last week had a similar meeting with residents of Valle Verde subdivision in Pasig City.
The dialogue was attended by City Mayor Carmelita Abalos, her husband and former mayor Benhur Abalos, and several councilors. The Office of the Mayor called for the ”urgent meeting”.
Explaining Tokhang to Mandaluyong residents, Sapitula recalled that when he was still the Muntinlupa City police chief, he had a plan to survey the environs inside the exclusive Ayala Alabang subdivision but was not allowed entry by its officers.
Lesson from Ayala Alabang
One year later, when he was already transferred to Las Piñas, a drug syndicate was discovered operating in Ayala Alabang, he said.
So when he returned to the subdivision, Sapitula said, he had to tell its security officers: “Look at what you did. You let drug suspects in but not me.’’
Sapitula told the homeowners not to feel pressured by Tokhang: “We do not have search warrants or warrant of arrests when we do it. But if we do have warrants, by all means, we will force our way through the door. What we will do is promote awareness, for (residents) to know that there is police presence and passion from our ranks, which is already a good thing.”
“Perhaps, some will ask us: Why do we give preferential treatment to the rich? We do this because some subdivisions have their own regulations to follow and respect. The others do not have rules and regulations that we need to abide by,” Sapitula said.
Bennett Zerrudo, a representative of Ayala Homes Subdivision, said they would support the campaign as “this will benefit us all.” Rey Cabiaz, president of the Acropolis Village Homeowners Association, echoed this sentiment.
Fernando Billeza, security chief of The Address at Wack Wack, admitted that management earlier refused entry to policemen who attempted to conduct Oplan Tokhang in the high-rise condo. “But I believe in the intention of the program,” he said.
Frederick Caedo of Cityland Shaw Tower said they had already coordinated with the police before and posted a sign in the elevators informing unit owners about the antidrug campaign.
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