Manila, Philippines – Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa on Friday promised a “bloodless” Oplan Tokhang when the police relaunch the controversial antidrug campaign this month.
Speaking to reporters in Valenzuela City, Dela Rosa said police would observe the “true spirit” of the knock-and-plead program.
“The spirit of ‘Tokhang,’ if implemented properly, is bloodless. That’s why it’s called knock and plead,” Dela Rosa said.
“Tokhang,” the PNP’s door-to-door campaign to convince drug users to surrender for rehabilitation, was terminated after President Duterte transferred the lead of his war on drugs to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Not lead agency
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in Bukidnon on Friday that the PNP was “not the lead agency” in the drug war.
“I will certainly inquire from the PNP what their plans are. Also remember that while President Duterte asked them to assist, the lead agency is PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency),” Roque said.
Human rights concerns
Critics and human rights advocates were concerned that police were using the campaign to identify and then later “neutralize” suspected drug suspects.
But now that the police were back in the antidrug drive, Dela Rosa said he would ensure safeguards to prevent police abuses.
“We will make sure and continue to make sure that police will do the true Tokhang, not one that is vulnerable to police whims,” he said.
Dela Rosa said he had given the go-signal to roll out Oplan Tokhang anew during their first command meeting this year.
He directed his men to solve the “DUIs” (deaths under investigation) in their area so as to quell suspicions that such cases were instigated by police.