Promising that the next chapter of the government’s war on drugs would not be the same dog with a new collar, the chief of the Philippine National Police said police would exert efforts to make the campaign less bloody. Body cameras, priests and a different composition of operating teams would be among the key features of what PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa called as “Oplan Tokhang Part 2” which he said is being unfairly criticized as a bloodthirsty campaign.
In an interview with radio station dzBB, Dela Rosa said policemen would be given body cameras that would record antidrug operations in communities. Operations, he said, would be led by municipal chiefs of police and village chairs in areas targeted for drug raids.
In carrying out tokhang (knock and plead), Dela Rosa said only local policemen in uniform would be allowed to knock on the doors of suspects’ homes. No policeman from the Philippine National Police headquarters or regional police office would take part in the operation. In Metro Manila, Dela Rosa said police commanders are to lead antidrug operations for Oplan Tokhang Part 2.
“Tokhang Part 2 aims to rehabilitate the suspected users of illegal drugs,” Dela Rosa said.
He said local government units have been prepared for the resumption of PNP involvement in the war on drugs. The drug rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija is now ready to accept patients from across the country. But he said drug users would not be forced to enter rehabilitation centers.
“There will be no coercion because that is against the law and we will need a court order to do just that,” Dela Rosa said.“So we will just convince them to undergo rehabilitation,” he said.
Police involvement in the war on drugs was suspended by President Duterte following the killing allegedly by policemen of a South Korean businessman right inside the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame. Dela Rosa had said the campaign against drugs would resume only after a cleansing of the police ranks.
“This we could guarantee,” Dela Rosa said. “This would never be abused because, as I said, police would never be indiscriminate,” he added. Operations, he added, “have to be led by the chief of police of the municipality and the barangay captain and barangay officials.”
The PNP chief said police would also provide priests copies of the government’s list of drug suspects to allow the religious leaders a chance to convince users or pushers to reform.
“The Church would be a big help to make this campaign less bloody or bloodless,” Dela Rosa said.
“People often say this campaign would be bloody but in Tokhang Part 2, what we would do is just to knock and plead,” Dela Rosa said.