The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to extend its ‘Oplan Tokhang’ program from illegal drugs to illegal gambling this year.
Oplan Tokhang, which means “knock and plead,” is a police operation in the country wherein authorities knock on the doors of suspected drug users or pushers and ask them to surrender.
DILG Secretary Ismael ‘Mike’ Sueno said that apart from the narcotics campaign, the PNP should also implement the ‘Oplan Tokhang’ principle in going after illegal gambling lords “to ensure that appropriate taxes go to government coffers.”
Sueno added that he also asked the PNP to ensure the program to not be used by the policemen for their own interests.
“I also prod PNP to ensure that (Oplan) Tokhang is not used or abused by policemen for their personal interests or some sort of vendetta against their enemies. Let us make sure that Tokhang is implemented for the sole purpose that it was conceived, and that is to round up drug personalities and other criminals,” the DILG secretary said.
Records from the PNP show that the police has visited 6 million houses through the program from July 1, 2016 to January 8, 2017.
From the 41,000 police operations conducted nationwide, an estimate of 44,000 drug pushers and users have been arrested. Around 1 million self-confessed drug addicts have also reportedly surrendered, PNP estimates show.
These figures, according to Malacañang, makes President Rodrigo Duterte’s intensified anti-illegal drugs campaign a “success.”
“It is evident we are hitting the mark in our campaign against illegal drugs,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said.
He added that the government’s crackdown on narcotics also “pulled down the country’s crime rate by 32 percent.”
“People feel safer in the streets and at night because the number of theft, carjacking, robbery, rape, physical injury has decreased. At the end of the day, this is what counts,” Andanar noted.
On the other hand, the number of deaths during legitimate police operations also dropped to an average of five persons daily during the first month of 2017, compared to the average 30 deaths per day in 2016. A total of 41 deaths have been recorded by the PNP from December 31, 2016 to January 8, 2017.
Since Duterte took office, around 6,000 people have been killed in the campaign from July to December last year—with 2,000 people slain during legitimate police operations while the remaining 4,000 were killed in extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings conducted mostly by unknown suspects.
This has earned the Philippine government condemnation from both local and international human rights groups.
The PNP, however, maintained that the war against illegal drugs would still be the top priority of the government this year.
“Drugs pa rin…kasi ang ating target ay zero drug affected barangays. I don’t know kung kalian natin makukuha yan pero hopefully this year gawin natin (It’s still drugs… our target is to have zero drug-affected barangays. I don’t know when we will achieve this but hopefully we could this year),” Dela Rosa said.