Tokhang operations will be during the day, five days a week: PNP
After President Rodrigo Duterte activated the police to join the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, the Philippine National Police (PNP) issued guidelines Monday to avoid human rights violation during the conduct of their operations.
The PNP will not allow conduct of Oplan Tokhang in communities during the evening and weekends, according to a memorandum setting supplemental operational guidelines.
Police shall visit homes 8 am to 5 pm from Monday to Friday, wearing proper uniform. The team must be led by police commissioned officers, it said.
“The Philippine National Police high command has issued a simplified list of do’s and dont’s to be observed by police units when conducting persuasive 'Tokhang' house visits in support of anti-drug operations in communities,” the PNP said in a statement on Wednesday.
“PNP Chief, Director General Ronald Dela Rosa earlier assured less bloody anti-drug operations as the PNP reassumes a crucial role in the government’s anti-drug campaign in support of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency,” it added.
Thousands were said to have been killed in the PNP's anti-drug operations in 2017, causing protests from human rights groups.
In an ambush interview after unveiling a sign warning government employees against going to casinos, dela Rosa said "a lot of salient points that should be known and cascaded going to the station level so we will have a uniform implementation of Tokhang."
The PNP said the memorandum was circulated by the PNP National Headquarters to all police regional offices and national support units on Monday.
“The supplemental guidelines are essentially founded on the fundamental principles of respect for human rights and strict adherence to the rule of law, with greater emphasis on transparency, accountability and command responsibility,” it said.
“The more salient items in the 12-point guidelines prescribe that “Rule of Law shall always prevail during the conduct of all anti-illegal drug related activities including Tokhang activities, and Respect for Human Rights shall be strictly observed at all times,” it added.
The PNP stressed the “guidelines specifically stipulate that Tokhang operations shall be intelligence-driven, targeting suspected illegal drug personalities listed by the Directorate for Intelligence.”
Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos, PNP spokesman, said the PNP encourages the Tokhang teams to use body cameras or similar gadgets for transparency.
“When available, the use of body camera and similar video recording gadgets is highly encouraged in Tokhang operations,” he said.
The PNP said “documentation of surrenderers (as well as) taking of mug shots and fingerprint, is voluntary and should not be mandatory”.
It said “any violation of this PNP Supplemental Operational Guidelines shall be dealt with under existing PNP disciplinary mechanisms.”
Tokhang which is derived from a Visayan vernacular “Toktok-Hangyo” means “to knock and plead”.
According to the PNP, “this concept involves visiting the residences of suspected illegal drugs personalities who are included in the watch list provided by the Directorate for Intelligence (DI) to persuade them to cease from their illegal activities as well as to avail of the wellness and recovery programs of government.”
After a series of the human rights violation allegedly by policemen in anti-illegal drug operation in 2017, Duterte issued an order disallowing other law enforcement agencies aside from Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to conduct anti-illegal drug operation.
This order was lifted last month, when Duterte activated the PNP to join the anti-illegal drug campaign of the government. Robina Asido/DMS