TOKHANG RETURNS. "Tokhangers" from Lasam Police station, Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council members and a pastor visit houses in Barangay Centro 1, Centro 2, and Aggunetan, Lasam on Monday, January 29. Photo courtesy of Lasam Police FB page.

Valley Cops bring back ‘Oplan Tokhang’ in Region 02

Gerard Josef Lucena

Cagayan Valley

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Police officers in the region are again knocking on doors of suspected drug personalities as Police Regional Office 02 (PRO2) reinstated “Oplan Tokhang” on Monday, January 29.

In a press release, PRO2 Regional Director Police Chief Superintendent Jose Mario Espino said the region’s police force is ready to focus on President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Espino said the new Philippine National Police (PNP) Supplemental Operational Guidelines will assure the success of Oplan Tokhang, adding that the new guidelines will ensure no human rights violations.

Further, the new guidelines now allow the media to cover the tokhang operations for “transparency,” Espino said.

“Nais kong ipabatid sa publiko na magiging transparent tayo sa implementasyon ng tokhang kung saan inaanyayahan natin ang mga kapatid natin sa media na saksihan ang operasyon upang matiyak na walang malalabag na anumang karapatang pantao at upang maiwasan na magkaroon ng mga negatibong agam-agam mula sa publiko,” Espino said in the release.

Espino added that Oplan Tokhang will only be conducted from Monday to Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM.

The police have been reinstalled in the Duterte administration’s drug war, helping lead agency Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency with local government units, and Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils or BADACs.

On Saturday, January 27, Regional Operations and Plans Division Chief Police Senior Superintendent Jeremias Aglugub met with provincial operations, intelligence, and community relations directors and deputy directors to talk about the new guidelines in the implementation of tokhang.

PRO2 Deputy Regional Director for Operations and Regional Oversight Committee Chairman Police Senior Superintendent John Cornelius Jambora also supervised the meeting in accordance to the new directive from Camp Crame.

Meanwhile in PNP Directorate for Intelligence’s watchlist, the region has a total of 636 drug personalities surveilled under tokhang.

Isabela has the most number of tokhang personalities with 288, followed by Cagayan with 176, Santiago City with 85, Nueva Vizcaya with 71, and Quitino with 16.

Being the first drug-free province in the region, Batanes maintained its clean record.

In the release, PRO2 said the tokhang is a practical and realistic method of the police to speed up their response to the country’s drug problem in barangays. In tokhang, police officers will visit and knock on the doors of drug personalities who will be encouraged to surrender and turn away from illegal drugs.