Drug users can’t be arrested under new “tokhang,” official says
Suspected drug users under the new "Oplan Tokhang" could not be arrested, National Capital Region Police Office Director Oscar Albayalde said on Sunday.
In a radio interview, Albayalde explained the police officers who will enforce tokhang could only urge the suspected illegal drug users to seek medical help.
"If the drug dependent doesn't want to surrender, we can't do anything about it. We cannot detain a drug dependent," he said.
"(What we can do) is to evaluate if he needs to undergo rehabilitation, counselling and what rehabilitation (scheme) we can give to the person," he added.
On the new version of the operation, Albayalde said police officers are only allowed to visit the house of the alleged drug suspect who is in their list.
"Oplan Tokhang now will only go to houses with drug dependents who are included in the watch list. Unlike before that they are knocking in all houses," he said.
About four police officers are allowed to conduct the operation and they are required to record the operation.
"They should also wear their uniform and be accompanied by barangay officials. We also want media, some personnel of human rights (group) or member of the church to join," he added.
Meanwhile, Albayalde said those who are identified as pushers will be targeted in buy bust operations.
"The buy bust operation will be separate from our Oplan Tokahng. The Oplan Tokhang and buy bust can't be done at the same time," he said.
Officers who are going to conduct buy bust operation and serving search warrant are also required to record their operation.
The leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) issued guidelines on how to conduct the new tokhang after President Rodrigo Duterte again allowed the policemen to join in the campaign against illegal drugs. The guidelines were issued to avoid human rights violations, which were the complaints when the campaign was initially launched as thousands of drug suspects were killed. Ella Dionisio/DMS