‘Churchmen in Tokhang will wear bulletproof vests, helmets’
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Monday said the PNP welcomes priests and leaders from different religious sects to accompany operatives in conducting “Oplan Tokhang” against drug pushers and users.
They don’t have to worry about their safety because they will be provided with bulletproof vests and helmets, Dela Rosa said.
Their presence in the police operations will show a “semblance of righteousness” so the drug offenders will be encouraged to surrender to the authorities, he added.
“If they want to join us, we’re open. Halimbawa, meron kaming iseserve na search warrant sa isang drug laboratory or sa isang high-value target then gustong sumama ng mga pari, we will provide them with bulletproof vests and helmet para sumabay sila doon mag-assault (For example, we would serve a search warrant on a drug laboratory or a high-value target then priests would like to join, we will provide them with bulletproof vests and helmet so they can go with the assault),” the tough-talking police chief said in a media conference at Camp Crame.
This as the PNP launched its “Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded” after a month-long hiatus. President Rodrigo Duterte suspended PNP’s drug operations after some of its men got involved in the killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo inside Camp Crame last October.
“This time we will make sure this will become less bloody if not bloodless campaign,” Dela Rosa said in a speech before Crame-based officers during the weekly flag-raising ceremony.
Under the relaunched drug war, Dela Rosa said the PNP will continue its operations against high-value targets and Tokhang operations, which have been “revalidated.”
The PNP also included the involvement of the local government and religious sector in its revised drug drive.
But Dela Rosa said the presence of Church leaders is not mandatory, unlike those of the barangay (village) officials and police chiefs of the area where the operation will be conducted.
“Ang pinaka importante dyan ‘yung chiefs of police at ‘yung barangay kapitan pero i-encourage natin sila na may imbitahan na pari (The most important would be the chiefs of police and the village chief but we encourage them to invite a priest),” he said./rga
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