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Police invite priests, pastors to join Tokhang

Michael Vencynth H. Braga (The Freeman) - March 6, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu City Police Office has backed the idea of inviting priests to accompany the police in carrying out their anti-illegal drug campaign dubbed as "Oplan Tokhang 2," which is set to be revived soon.

Senior Superintendent Joel Doria, CCPO director, told The FREEMAN that he even wants pastors to join the police in case priests are not available.

Doria made the statement in response to the recent appeal of Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa to priests urging them to take part in the anti-narcotics campaign.

In a report over radio DZMM, Dela Rosa was quoted as saying that the participation of the priests would ensure that no abuses will be committed when they visit the homes of drug suspects, and help convince drug suspects to change for good.

"Pagkatapos kang sermunan ng pulis, iiwanan ka ng blessing ng pari, siguro naman baka may malaking sansang magbago ka o magpapa-rehab ka na," he said.

Doria believed that pastors and priests would play an important role in persuading the drug users and pushers to stop their illegal activities and live a drug-free life.

In fact, he added, there is even an ongoing project of the city police to make rounds for moral and spiritual seminars facilitated by pastors.

"Maganda naman 'yon para meron namang spiritual side sa campaign natin at magbago na ang mga users and pushers na 'yan… Mahimok natin talaga sila na mag-surrender," he said.

Doria explained that this would also dispel misinterpretations on the Tokhang, which only involves knocking on the houses of known drug users and pushers and plead them to either stop their illegal activity or surrender.

Once the police are able to interact with the drug users or pushers, a blue sticker is posted on the door which indicates that the house was already subjected to the Tokhang. A red sticker, on the other hand, is posted to show that the house is drug-free, which means that none of the family members are user or pusher.

"Na-misinterpret kasi nila ang Tokhang. 'Pag may Tokhang, akala nila papatayin," Doria said.

He noted that there was no history so far of drug user or pusher being killed during the conduct Tokhang in the city.

In Central Visayas, a total of 106,76O self-confessed drug pushers and users have turned themselves in to the authorities as part of the Tokhang based on the record from the Police Regional Office-7. The number covers the period from July 1, when the new administration officially carried out its duties, to January 26 this year.

The records also showed that 5,257 drug suspects were arrested, 157 killed in police operations and 352 killed by unidentified assailants and whose deaths are still under investigation.

The figures include the 8,860 surrenderers, 2,318 arrested drug suspects and 18 killed in police operations in Cebu City.

In January this year, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered for the temporary suspension of all the anti-illegal drugs operations initiated by the police all over the country to give way to the "internal cleansing" in the police hierarchy.

The move came following the kidnapping and killing of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo in the national police headquarters in October last year.

The suspects allegedly carried out the crime in the guise of a search operation as part of the police's war on drugs.

But Duterte eventually ordered last week for the return of the police to the war against illegal drugs. —/KBQ (FREEMAN)

OPLAN TOKHANG
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