POLICEMEN conducting Oplan: Tokhang are under strict orders to be courteous and fully observe human rights when dealing with the public including known drug offenders, Philippine National Police officials headed by Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa assured the citizenry yesterday in the wake of President Duterte’s six months extension in the massive campaign against illegal drug trafficking and abuse.
The PNP chief has thanked President Duterte for giving them an extended time to crush illegal drug activities and at the same time called on his commanders to ensure that their men will observe proper decorum and the Police Operational Procedures in the conduct of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Campaign Plan called Project: Double Barrel.
Project: Double Barrel is being conducted in a two-pronged approach namely Project: Tokhang and Project HVT or High-Value Target. Project: Tokhang (knock and persuade) is the lower barrel approach of the PNP being conducted in all drug-affected barangays nationwide thru the coordination of local government units, other stakeholders and law enforcement agencies.
It has been described as a practical and realistic means of accelerating the drive against illegal drugs in affected barangays and involves the conduct of house-to-house visitations to persuade suspects to stop their illegal drug activities.
Project HVT is a massive and reinvigorated conduct of anti-illegal drug operations targeting illegal drug personalities and drug syndicates in the national, regional, district, provincial and city levels.
PNP spokesman, Senior Superintendent Dionardo B. Carlos has offered tips on how the public should behave when police officers come around to check them even as he maintained that all policemen are under instructions to be courteous at all times.
He said there have been unfounded fears among some sectors of society that police are abusive. “First of all, people should do away with the mentality that policemen are out to harm them. As public servants in charge of peace and order, it is us, of all people, who want every conflict resolved in a peaceful way, with zero casualties if possible,” he explained.
Carlos said this is the reason why the police have been spending a lot of time visiting the houses of suspected drug users and pushers.
According to Carlos, officers conducting Oplan: Tokhang must be in complete uniform and identify the units they belong to. He said that in most cases, policemen visiting suspected drug users and pushers are accompanied by barangay officials who, thru their Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council or BADAC are the ones compiling a list of their constituents involved in illegal drugs. Most importantly, he said every resident has the right to refuse the entry of policemen visiting their homes.
National Capital Region Police Office director, Chief Supt. Oscar D. Albayalde also offered these additional tips:
Courteously ask the purpose of the visit; Do not overreact since it could trigger arguments and possible violence; Do not run because it would indicate guilt; Talk with visiting policemen properly and courteously; Parents or guardians of drug personalities have a choice to include their children in the discussion with the police on what steps must be done; The parents or guardians can ask the policemen to search the house to help in clearing their children or relatives if they are indeed innocent; If the relatives are indeed involved in illegal drugs, the parents or guardians should convey their intention to cooperate and ask the police on the procedures to follow.
Albayalde, a classmate at the Philippine Military Academy ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 of Gen. dela Rosa, said that if the parents, guardians or relatives know beforehand that a family member is on the drug list, the best way is to go to the nearest police station to clear things up.
“If they believe there was an error in the inclusion of their family member, they could immediately subject them to drug test and present the result to the police station,” he said. Albayalde added that in some cases, they can request for another drug test done in the presence of the police.
Since the PNP is also aware that there could be discrepancies on the drug list being provided by BADACs, Albayalde said police are more than willing to correct the inconsistencies.
Gen. dela Rosa said they did not ask for an extension in the campaign against illegal drugs but still was thankful the Commander-in-Chief gave them additional time to finish their job and well.
“I did not ask for an extension but the extension is better so that we finish this properly. We’re thankful because we were given additional time,” he said.
To date, more than 1,200 armed drug dealers have been killed in gunbattles with the police since last July 1 with more than 18,600 others being arrested in the wake of the stepped-up enforcement of the Project: Double Barrel ordered by Gen. dela Rosa.
Since July 1, over a dozen policemen and soldiers have been shot dead by armed and defiant drug traffickers, the latest of them Police Officer 1 Romeo Mandapat, a 24-year old member of the Caloocan City Police Station who was shot dead by wanted drug dealer Jerson Maturan during an operation in Sampaloc Street, Barangay 178 two weeks ago.
As of 6 a.m. yesterday, Carlos said over 19,000 operations have been conducted by the police across the country including the PNP Oplan: Tokhang which so far has resulted in the voluntary surrender of more than 718,000 confessed drug personalities composed of over 54,000 shabu and marijuana dealers and around 665,000 drug users.
The number of houses visited by the police in the wake of the implementation of Oplan: Tokhang also rose to more than 1,200 as of yesterday.