MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday said the Philippine National Police (PNP) has agreed to reassess "Oplan Tokhang," the knock-and-plead anti-drug strategy linked to controversial deaths.
Robredo, who now co-chairs the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), said she had a meeting with PNP Officer-in-Charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa and other officials.
“Rineiterate ko 'yung aking suggestion for them to rethink 'yung kampanya (laban sa droga), especially 'yung Tokhang,” Robredo told media.
(I reiterated my suggestion for them to rethink the campaign, especially Tokhang.)
“Ni-reiterate ko rin na nagkaroon na siya ng negative na iteration. In fact, ginagamit na siyang verb. 'Pag sinabi mong na-tokhang hindi maganda 'yung connotation. Agree naman sila. And they promised to assess and to come up with an improved version,” she said.
(I reiterated that it already has a negative iteration. In fact, it’s already being used as a verb. When you say “na-tokhang,” it has a negative connotation. They agreed. And they promised to assess and to come up with an improved version.)
Robredo said that on paper, the anti-drug program Oplan Double Barrel is laid out properly.
“Pero obviously 'yung gaps dahil nagkaroon ng abuses on how it was implemented,” she said. “So ayun ang ni-raise ko sa kanila. And they agreed na panahon para i-reassess paano siya mas makaka-evoke na kampanya ito hindi against sa tao pero kampanya ng tao.”
(But obviously there are gaps that’s why there have been abuses about how it was implemented. So I raised that with them. And they agreed that it’s time to reassess so it can be seen as a campaign of the people and not a campaign against the people.)
Double Barrel is the PNP's anti-illegal drug campaign plan implemented starting on July 1, 2016, the first day of the Duterte administration.
It laid down a two-pronged approach, including Oplan Tokhang and Project HVT (high-value target), which aims to go after local and international drug traffickers.
The PNP suspended Tokhang in October 2017 on the President's orders over controversial deadly operations and alleged police abuses, but relaunched it in January, enforcing new guidelines such as conducting operations only at daytime.
In three years, over 5,000 drug suspects have been slain the drug war, with police saying they had resisted arrest. Government has denied allegations it was behind summary killings of thousands more others slain vigilante style.
Robredo’s discussion with the PNP happened immediately before their meeting for the enforcement cluster of the ICAD.
It has been around a week since Robredo accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer for her to co-chair the ICAD despite some opposition personalities warning against it.
Robredo, the opposition leader who had criticized the drug war, has said that she sees her appointment as an opportunity to prevent unnecessary killings brought about by the drug war.