‘Tokhang’ is back in harness

By Paulo DS. Papa NAGA CITY--- After a month-long hiatus, the dreaded Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign, otherwise known as “Tokhang” is now back in harness. Dubbed “Oplan Double Barrel, Reloaded,” the re-launched anti-drug campaign under the stewardship of the Philippine National Police nationwide, kicked off last Monday, March 6, that purports to exclude the participation of rogue policemen in their operations. Here in the city, SPO2 Tobias S. Bongon III, spokesperson of the Naga City Police Office (NCPO) confirmed in an interview conducted last Monday afternoon the reactivation of Oplan Double Barrel, or more popularly known as Tokhang. He clarified, however, that there are initial requirements given to their office concerning drug operations in order to ensure that: 1) drug enforcement units of the police should always coordinate with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency; 2) only the members of the drug enforcement units are allowed to conduct anti-illegal drug operations; 3) participating members or operatives must be cleared from derogatory records; and 4) during the Tokhang operations, the barangay officials and religious leaders (such as parish priests or pastors) and other private organizations should be present. The involvement of the religious sector, according to Bongon, is required due to the pronounced opposition of the Church against extra judicial killings as deadly offshoot of the anti-drug campaign. Bongon further elaborated on the religious sector’s participation: “Nagdududa kaya an simbahan sa pulis.” “The role of the religious sector is to witness, and at the same time encourage or influence individuals to fight against drugs because of their influential role in the community” he added. He also admitted that the city’s barangays are not yet 100% drugs-free although the local government unit and its barangays are continuously offering training, education, employment, and most importantly, rehabilitation, to erstwhile drug peddlers and users.” SPO2 Bongon warned that if drug suspects remain not to have mended their ways, the police will surely come up to them. President Rodrigo Duterte in late January this year ordered the PNP to stop its anti-illegal drug operations after policemen allegedly involved in an extortion racket kidnapped South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, killed him right inside Camp Crame, and had his body cremated in a funeral parlor and his ashes flushed down the toilet.