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Oplan Tokhang suspended due to COVID-19 quarantine

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Oplan Tokhang suspended due to COVID-19 quarantine
A Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency agent secures part of a street holding residents temporarily during a drug raid in Maharlika Village, Taguig, south of Manila on Feb. 28, 2018. The drug raid was conducted to arrest five drug dealers, but only two were captured. President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs has left nearly 4,000 drug suspects dead and seen human rights groups claim he was responsible for a crime against humanity. The anti-drugs campaign enjoys popular support while the fiery-tongued Duterte has rejected any criticism of his human rights record.
AFP / Noel Celis

MANILA, Philippines — Amid a nationwide state of calamity and an enhanced community quarantine hoisted over all of mainland Luzon, Oplan Tokhang is suspended for the time being. 

This was confirmed by Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas,  Metro Manila police chief, at a media briefing on Tuesday. 

Sinas said that the national police would shift their focus towards combating the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Department of Interior and Local Government has said that police and barangay officers will serve as “truant officers” to make sure that the learners are at home.

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire country under a state of calamity upon the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Proclamation 929, signed Monday and made public on Tuesday, which declared the state of calamity in the Philippines, directs law enforcement agencies including the Armed Forces of the Philippines "to undertake all necessary measures to ensure peace and order."

“Wala na muna po yung Oplan Tokhang. We [are] momentarily silent on that. Kasi ang focus ay sa quarantine,” Sinas told reporters at a press conference.

Alleged rights violations

According to surveys by the Social Weather Stations, 76% of Filipinos believe the administration's campaign against illegal drugs is laced with human rights violations. 

Government data acknowledges more than 5,500 "drug personalities" killed in law enforcement operations, but activists and rights groups both local and international say the death toll has skyrocketed to around 27,000. 

Authorities also say all of those who died had shot it out with police, although witnesses say they were murdered and did not fight back.

During his campaign to the presidency, Duterte promised to end the drug problem within six months of his election.

Three years into his term, he has asked for numerous extensions for his self-imposed deadline, eventually giving up on the initial timeline altogether. 

“Pagbigyan muna natin sila. Kung nasa loob ka, wala ka namang makuhang supply,” Sinas said.

“Kasi supposedly nasa bahay lang ang mga ‘yan. Ayaw namin dagdagan yung sama ng loob ng mga tao muna."

(We'll let them be for now. If you're inside, you won't get any supply. Supposedly they'll be in their houses. We don't want to contribute to the outrage of the people first.) 

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE

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