Rights officers joining ‘Tokhang’ teams can’t cleanse effects of operations
No number of human rights officers present in Oplan Tokhang operations could cleanse the campaign’s potential effects to the people, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said in a press conference on Wednesday.
“Hindi niya [Oplan Tokhang] kayang hugasan sa presensya ng mga human rights officers ang potensyal na maging epekto nito sa ating mamamayan,” Zarate said .
[Oplan Tokhang cannot cleanse through the presence of human rights officers its potential effects to the people.]
“Dahil wala namang pagbabago doon sa esensya doon sa objective nitong Oplan Tokhang, anti-poor pa rin ito. Ang tatamaan pa rin ay ating mahihirap. Probably from 9[a.m.] to 5 [p.m.], mangangatok sila at makikiusap. Pero dahil alam na nila kung sino yung target nila, sa gabi, may mag-ooperate,” he added.
[Because the campaign’s objective essentially did not change, it’s still anti-poor. The poor will still be the target. Probably from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., they would knock on people’s doors and plead, but because they already know their target, they would operate at night.]
Oplan Tokhang, a mix of Cebuano words “katok” that means to knock and “hangyo” or plead, involves police officers conducting house-to-house visits to suspected drug criminals and asking them to surrender.
It will now be implemented from 8 a.m. to 5 a.m. by four-member teams of “Tokhangers” – the police officers trained and authorized to conduct the campaign.
Tokhang operations, under the new guidelines set by the Philippine National Police (PNP), should include a representative from the barangay council, from a human rights group, or from the religious sector.
Police officers are also not allowed to enter a suspect’s house.
Other anti-illegal drug operations, like a buy-bust, however, could still be implemented any time of the day.
President Rodrigo Duterte removed the PNP from the helm of his bloody crackdown on illegal drugs in October last year over allegations of rights abuses in police operations and the mounting deaths linked to the campaign.
Zarate blasted the PNP’s move to buy millions-worth of bomb-sniffing dogs instead of body cameras for use of officers during operations.
“At it’s very ironic na sabi nila na isang reporma sa Oplan Tokhang na ito ay papasuotin na ang body cams ang mga pulis. Pero sa halip na body cams ang binili nila ay mga aso na ang mamahal, milyun milyon, kalahating milyon kada isa ang ginugol nila,” he said.
[It’s very ironic that one of the reforms in this Oplan Tokhang is for the police to wear body cams. But instead of body cams, they bought expensive dogs worth millions.]
He also lamented that no one has ever been held accountable since the campaign was launched right after Durerte assumed the presidency.
“Ni-relaunch na uli itong Oplan Tokhang na ito ay wala pang napanagot na naging responsible doon sa maramihang pagpatay,” the lawmaker said.
[Oplan Tokhang has already been relaunched twice. But not a single person responsible for the mass killings have been made accountable.] /atm
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.