Police ‘tokhangers’ to undergo retraining
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) will train policemen tasked to implement “Oplan Tokhang” on the proper conduct of the anti-illegal drug campaign.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa yesterday said the “Tokhangers,” referring to the police officers who will undergo training, are the people who will knock on the doors of suspected drug offenders and ask them to stop.

“We will give them an orientation, train those authorized to visit houses of suspected drug pushers and users,” Dela Rosa said over CNN Philippines.

Dela Rosa has ordered field commanders to resume Tokhang, which means knock and plead in Cebuano. He said the program credited for the surrender of 1.3 million suspected drug personalities will resume this month.

According to Dela Rosa, they are finalizing the general guidelines to ensure no human rights violations will be committed during the program’s implementation.

“We are fine-tuning, putting stringent measures,” he said.

Afterwards, the oversight committee designated by Dela Rosa will disseminate the guidelines in regional offices.

Dela Rosa maintained Tokhang is actually a bloodless program if implemented properly. He said the program gained notoriety because some policemen used it for personal motives.

PNP Directorate for Operations chief Director Camilo Pancratious Cascolan said the operating teams should be accompanied by barangay officials, as well as representatives from educational institutions, religious sector and even the media.

President Duterte has called on the PNP to once again take the lead role in the drug war, having twice demoted them in response to criticism of the crackdown.

He first ordered the police to take a step back in January, describing them as “corrupt to the core” and instructing the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to lead after revelations that police officers kidnapped and murdered a South Korean businessman.

But it wasn’t long before Duterte reinstated the 165,000-strong PNP without any major reforms, re-launching the war under the name “Double Barrel Reloaded” – so-called for the two-pronged police strategy to wipe out drugs.

In October, Duterte announced the PDEA would again take the helm in the face of mounting public opposition, including rare street protests triggered by the murder of three teenagers, allegedly by police officers.

Since Duterte took office, police have reported killing 3,967 people in the crackdown. 

Another 2,290 have been murdered in drug-related crimes, while thousands of other deaths remain unsolved, according to government data.

The drug campaign has also led to wider violence in which thousands of people have been murdered in unexplained circumstances.

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