MANILA - The head of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Sunday urged leaders of the country's Roman Catholic Church to join forces with the police who are set to re-launch their anti-narcotics campaign.
PNP chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa made this call as he gave assurances that there will be new policies to prevent the killing of drug suspects.
Church representatives are invited to accompany cops who will conduct "Oplan Tokhang Part 2" to ensure that no abuses will be committed as they visit the homes of drug suspects and encourage them to avail of rehabilitation programs according to dela Rosa.
"We encourage the participation of the Church. Kung sino yung Church leaders sa area, yung representatives nila, iniimbitahan nating sumama sa Tokhang para makita talaga nila na ito ay ginagawa dahil sa concern natin sa mga kababayan nating nalulong sa droga at hindi ito maabuso," Dela Rosa told radio DZMM.
(We invite Church leaders in the area and their representatives to participate in Tokhang so they can see that we are doing this out of concern for our fellow countrymen addicted to drugs, and ensure that the operations will not be abused.)
The PNP chief also expressed confidence that Church leaders can help convince drug suspects to stop their illegal activities.
"Pagkatapos kang sermunan ng pulis, iiwanan ka ng blessing ng pari, siguro naman baka may malaking sansang magbago ka o magpapa-rehab ka na," he said.
(After the police lecture you and priests bless you, you'd probably want to reform or seek rehabilitation.)
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has decried the "reign of terror" triggered by the administration's drug war that has seen thousands of drug suspects slain.
As criticism of the campaign mounted after cops allegedly killed a South Korean businessman, President Duterte ordered the PNP to halt all anti-drug efforts last month. Duterte, however, again ordered the PNP to take part in the drug war last week.
Police officials are set to launch a new unit, the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (P-DEG), to spearhead narcotics operations, Dela Rosa said.
He explained that under P-DEG, only town police chiefs, station commanders and precinct heads will be authorized to conduct Tokhang operations, accompanied by barangay officials and Church representatives.
Dela Rosa said that although less personnel will be involved in Tokhang efforts, there will be a smaller chance that rogue cops will use legitimate operations to cover their illegal activities.
"Bahala na kung mabagal ang Oplan Tokhang Part 2 basta slow but sure na hindi ito magagamit ng mga tiwaling pulis na nangangatok at nananakot ng mga tao para pagkaperahan," he said.
(It doesn't matter if Oplan Tokhang Part 2 is slow, as long as there are assurances that it won't be used by rogue cops to scare people and extort money.)
To complement Tokhang efforts, cops will also run after big time drug traffickers and laboratories under Oplan Double Barrel, Dela Rosa said.