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Tokhang reloaded with P900 M

The P900 million was allocated specifically for Oplan Tokhang or the police house-to-house operations to catch drug personalities. Edd Gumban/File

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has reloaded the administration’s bloody anti-drug war dubbed Oplan Tokhang with P900 million in fresh funds – a move immediately criticized as a bloodstained budget passed in the dead of night.

The amount is part of the proposed P131.3-billion budget for the Philippine National Police (PNP) next year, which the House approved early morning yesterday.

The proposed budget is nearly P20 billion more than this year’s P111.6 billion and P43 billion more than the P88.5 billion in 2016.

The P900 million was allocated specifically for Oplan Tokhang or the police house-to-house operations to catch drug personalities.

The PNP is currently funding its anti-drug war from law enforcement-related appropriations in its 2017 outlay and possibly from augmentations from President Duterte’s P2.5-billion intelligence budget.

The decision of the House to reload Tokhang with a huge amount of fresh funds has elicited protest from Duterte’s leftist allies.

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“Why are we financing the extrajudicial killing of poor Filipinos who are presumed to be linked to illegal drugs? We cannot fund an institution that kills our people. And this chamber should never be an accomplice to this killing spree,” Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas said.

“The PNP could not even provide the specifics of the multimillion-peso anti-drug program which has already claimed the lives of thousands of poor Filipinos,” she said.

She cited the recent death of young drug suspects whom the police claim resisted arrest.

Brosas decried the approval of the PNP budget in the early morning hours yesterday.

“This bloodstained budget was passed in the dead of night as another alleged drug suspect was shot dead in Manila. This is very telling of how monsters love the dead of night,” she said.

Other congressmen criticized mounting deaths in the anti-drug campaign, particularly the killing of young suspects.

“This barbaric cruelty is unthinkable but under the Duterte administration, it becomes the new normal. It is now the norm to kill alleged criminals with latent and excessive force, gangland-style executions that minors are not even spared,” opposition Rep. Tom Villarin of Akbayan said.

“There is now a breakdown in law enforcement and institutions tasked to address these killings. Our citizens are crying for justice but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. From Malacañang, we only see how it tries to massage the negative public reaction through photo ops with the victims’ families and empty promises of justice,” he said.

Villarin said it is only Duterte who could order the police to stop the killings.

“Is that too much to ask or is he that callous in conscience?” Villarin asked.

Opposition Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. of Ifugao also said the President “is attempting to temper the billowing outrage to the latest killings of teens and children with photo sessions with the families of the victims, commitments to bring the cops who are found guilty to justice and the explanation that these are isolated incidents and not policy.”

In the Senate, Sen. Ralph Recto has vowed to scrutinize the PNP’s Tokhang funding.

“Before such campaign is reloaded with funds, questions as to how it will be implemented must first be asked,” he said.

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