Relaunched 'Tokhang' limited to 'office hours'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2018 06:31 PM

MANILA - In its revival, the Philippine National Police's (PNP) house-to-house anti-drug operations will only be done during office hours. 

Policemen will no longer "knock and plead" on the doors of drug suspects at night as the PNP has limited its "Oplan Tokhang" operations to daytime, keen to ensure a more transparent and accountable campaign against illegal drugs. 

"Tokhang Teams in proper PNP uniform must be led by a police commissioned officer and shall conduct operations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday thru Friday," the PNP said in a statement Wednesday. 

Previously, Tokhang operations, which drew criticism over alleged police abuses, were also held at nighttime. 

Aside from limiting operations until before sundown, the PNP also said that all anti-drug operations must be intelligence-driven, and "founded on the fundamental principles of respect for human rights and strict adherence to the rule of law, with greater emphasis on transparency, accountability and command responsibility."

"In the documentation of surrenderers, [the] taking of mug shots and fingerprints is voluntary and should not be mandatory for surrenderers," the PNP said.

During operations, injured suspects must also be brought to the hospital for immediate medical treatment while those killed should still be subjected to on-site inquest proceedings.

PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa earlier said the use of body cameras during anti-drug operations has yet to become mandatory as the government has not yet procured enough cameras for all police units.

"You cannot require what you do not provide. Sa ngayon hindi pa natin na-provide ang lahat ng istasyon ng mga body camera dahil in the pipeline pa ito ng procurement," he said.

He said the use of body cameras during anti-drug operations would be required as soon as government procures enough equipment for all police stations nationwide.

The new guidelines on Oplan Tokhang was released as the police geared up to rejoin the government's war on drugs later this month.

In October, President Rodrigo Duterte put the PNP in the backseat of the drug war amid reports of police abuses in anti-narcotics operations. He instead directed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to take charge.

Two months later, Duterte rescinded the order and allowed the PNP to rejoin anti-drug efforts led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Human rights groups have claimed that at least 12,000 drug suspects have died since Duterte launched his bloody war on drugs in 2016, but data from the PNP only places the death toll at nearly 4,000.

Officials have earlier explained that drug suspects slain in police operations had put up violent resistance, prompting officers to fire.