Robredo reveals gov’t forces use ‘palit-ulo scheme’ in drug war
A “palit-ulo” scheme is being employed by the government forces in poverty-stricken areas in the name of President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs, Vice President Leni Robredo has revealed.
“They (communities) told us of the ‘palit-ulo’ scheme which means ‘exchange heads’ where the wife, husband or relative in a so-called drug list will be taken if the person himself could not be found,” Robredo said in a recorded video message uploaded by an anti-drug network last Monday.
Robredo’s message will be played at the forum organized by the Washington-based Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet) for the 60th United Nations (UN) Commission on Narcotic Drugs annual meeting on Thursday at the Vienna International Center.
A staunch critic of the drug war, Robredo reiterated her opposition to the Duterte administration’s brutal war against drugs, noting that more than 7,000 have become victims of extrajudicial killings since the drug war started in July.
Robredo said her office received complaints from some residents in poor communities in Metro Manila that they are being rounded up by the authorities during the implementation of the Philippine National Police’s “Oplan Tokhang.”
Tokhang or the knock-and-plead operation was supposedly conducted by police officers to visit drug addicts at their homes and convince them to mend their ways.
But instead of convincing them to surrender, Robredo said poor communities are “rounded up in places like basketball courts, women separated from men, those with tattoos asked to stand in the corner, their belongings searched.”
“People are told that they didn’t have the right to demand for search warrants because they were squatters and did not own the properties on which their houses were built,” she continued.
She said those who ask the police for search warrants “have been beaten and physically abused for doing so.”
“Some of those have told us when there’s crime, they normally go to the police; now they don’t know where to turn to,” she said.
“Our people feel both hopeless and helpless—a state of mind that we should all take seriously,” Robredo added.
The vice president then called on the public to compel the Duterte government to hold accountable those behind thousands of drug killings and illegal arrests.
She said government leaders should be “honest about the basis of the drug war.”
“You cannot kill addicts and declare the problem solved… We must all demand greater transparency in the government’s war on drugs because this is a major, publicly-funded campaign,” Robredo added. JE
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