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Abuse of drug offenders against the law, PNP tells barangay officials

  • Written by Alfred Dalizon
  • Published in Nation
  • Read: 435

THE Philippine National Police yesterday warned that any barangay officials who will be found
physically abusing drug offenders who have surrendered to them will be facing charges and eventual
arrest once the court orders it.

PNP spokesman, Chief Superintendent John C. Bulalacao issued the statement amid a report
that some confessed drug dependents who surrendered to officials of a local barangay in Lamitan,
Basilan were hit with paddle as a form of punishment.
    
“We are not tolerating anybody who will physically harm and abuse drug offenders who have
surrendered peacefully. Even policemen who commit the offense will be prosecuted and jailed once
identified,” the PNP spokesperson said.
    
In the reported Lamitan, Basilan incident, he said that it will be investigated by local
police authorities in coordination with local government officials.
    
Reports said that a group of confessed drug users who yielded to officials of Bgy. Balas in
Lamitan were hit twice by a paddle. Those who are said to be involved in both illegal drug
trafficking and abuse received more paddle strikes apart from being ordered to clean up their
village.
    
“Any form of torture is prohibited in our organization and the rest of the country. In the
PNP, we see to it that the human rights of all persons including those undergoing custodial
investigation will be protected at all times,” Bulalacao said.
    
He said that if the report will prove to be true, the concerned barangay officials will be
possibly facing charges for violation of the anti-torture law.
    
Bulalacao earlier asked the media to help them explain to the public the difference of the
PNP Oplan: Tokhang with police buy-bust operations and anti-drug raids.
    
The member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988 explained that Oplan:
Tokhang is aimed at convincing identified drug personalities to yield and avail of the government
wellness and recovery programs.
    
“This is a pro-life program with no shots to be fired by officers knocking on the doors of
target drug personalities and persuading them to surrender and stop their illegal drug activities,”
Bulalacao said while echoing PNP chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. Dela Rosa’s assurance of a
‘more active but less bloody’ anti-drug operations this year.
    
The PNP leadership is currently engaged in a program to educate the citizenry about the
distinct difference of Oplan: Tokhang with buy-bust operations and raids on drug dens, shabu
laboratories and storage facilities and residences of known drug traffickers. The move is aimed at
erasing the negative public perception that each time an armed drug suspect is killed in a shootout
with the police, word is being passed out by the slain suspect’s relatives and neighbors that he was
‘na-Tokhang.’
    
Bulalacao said that since Oplan: Tokhang resumed last January 29, no casualties have been
recorded in all 17 regions across the country to date. He cited official reports from the PNP
Directorate for Operations which monitored the conduct of 3,456 ‘Tokhang’ activities during the
week-long run of the ‘knock and plead’ campaign resulting in the surrender of 1,573 confessed drug
offenders nationwide, 586 of them coming from Northern Mindanao which is under the Police Regional
Office 10 and 401 in the National Capital Region.
    
The officia, however, said that from December 5, 2017 to last Thursday, police nationwide
have arrested 6,253 drug personalities as a result of 4,058 operations conducted. A total of 53
armed suspects also died in firefights with officers conducting buy-bust operations, drug raids and
other interdiction operations, he said.

‘Tokhangers’ he explained are very much different from policemen conducting buy-bust
operations or implementing search warrants for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and other police interdiction operations such as checkpoints.

Undercover officers dealing with known drug pushers usually have back-ups that can readily
engage armed suspects once they sense they are being entrapped and begin shooting. On the other
hand, policemen conducting anti-drug raids and checkpoints are in proper uniforms and always
accompanied by an officer.
    
‘Tokhang’ has been described by the PNP leadership as a ‘practical and realistic means of
accelerating the drive against illegal drugs in affected barangays. ‘Tokhang’ is derived from the
Visayan word ‘Toktok-Hangyo’ which means ‘to knock and plead.’
    
Bulalacao said that the concept involves visiting the residences of suspected drug
personalities who are included in the watch list provided by the PNP Directorate for Intelligence to
persuade them to cease from their illegal activities and avail the wellness and recovery programs of
the Duterte government.
    
‘Tokhangers’ refer to members of the ‘Tokhang’ team who would visit watch-listed drug
personalities and persuade them to yield and stop their illegal drug activities.
    
Bulalacao said that all PNP ‘Tokhang’ activities, as ordered by Gen. Dela Rosa should be
done in proper coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, local government units
particularly the Provincial/City/Municipal/Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse councils, NGOs, different
stakeholders and other law enforcement agencies.
    
The official said that Gen. Dela Rosa has strictly ordered all ‘Tokhangers’ to adhere to the
rule of law, respect human rights at all times.
    
He said that all ‘Tokhang’ activities shall be intelligence-driven and targets shall be the
suspected illegal drug personalities listed by the PNP-DI. As an added security measure, he said
that all ‘Tokhang’ teams shall be officer-led, shall be conducted only from Monday to Friday between
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and when available, the use of body camera and other gadgets to record ‘Tokhang’
activities is highly-encouraged.