CHR bucks ‘Oplan Tokhang’ resumption
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has joined calls against the resumption of the Philippine National Police’s “Oplan Tokhang,” calling the antidrug program “arbitrary” and “susceptible to abuse.”
“It should not continue because it has caused thousands to be killed without due process and many innocents have perished in the course of the campaign. Thousands have surrendered but many have not been rehabilitated and our jails are heavily congested,” the CHR said in a statement on Friday.
Lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia, CHR public affairs office chief, said the number of Tokhang-related cases being handled by the CHR had reached over 400.
“More or less 95 percent are without complainants but were investigated on our own initiative,” De Guia said in a text message.
Reported drug-related extrajudicial killings being investigated by the CHR from May 10 to Jan. 8 totaled 422 cases with 528 victims, according to a summary obtained by the Inquirer. Of these 422 cases, 220 were during law enforcement operations and 202 under “vigilante killings.”
The CHR cited the controversial killing of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo as a prime example that Tokhang is “susceptible to abuse by many in the police force.” The case prompted President Duterte to suspend the police’s war on drugs in January.
“The commission, as the conscience of the government, urges the government to continue the drug campaign without resorting to violence,” the CHR said.
But PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa defended the police force, saying it has always been following the law in the implementation of the antidrug campaign and that policemen have always respected the rights of the suspects.
In an interview in Davao City, where he graced the opening of the first Mindanao Sultanate Summit, Dela Rosa said “we have not killed anybody for nothing.”
He said those killed in police operations in connection with President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs had put up violent resistance. He said several policemen died or were wounded while conducting operations.
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