CHR, church denounce resumption of 'Oplan Double Barrel'

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 06 2017 05:56 PM

A woman weeps over the body of her husband, who was killed on a street by a vigilante group, according to police, in a spate of drug related killings in Pasay City. Czar Dancel, Reuters

The‭ ‬Commission on ‬Human‭ ‬Rights‭ (CHR) and A Catholic Church leader ‬denounced‭ ‬the‭ ‬resumption‭ of ‬anti-drug operations by‭ the Philippine National Police (PNP). ‬

In a statement, the CHR said the internal cleansing ‭by ‬the PNP has‭ ‬scarcely begun‭ ‬and‭ ‬has not‭ ‬yet produced‭ ‬concrete‭ ‬results.‭ 

"No ‬true and‭ ‬meaningful‭ ‬investigation‭ ‬has‭ ‬been‭ ‬conducted‭ on ‬the‭ ‬extra-judicial‭ ‬killings‭ ‬yet‭ ‬and‭ ‬worse, no‭ single person, to date has been held to account," the CHR said.‬

The‭ ‬CHR‭ ‬urged‭ ‬the‭ ‬government‭ to ‬hold‭ ‬"Oplan Double Barrel, Reloaded," which includes "Oplan‭ ‬Tokhang" (Knock and Plead),‭ in‬ abeyance‭ ‬until‭ ‬the‭ ‬PNP‭ ‬has‭ ‬concretely‭ ‬introduced‭ ‬reforms‭ ‬and‭ ‬only‭ ‬after‭ ‬serious investigations into the extra-judicial‭ ‬killings‭ that have been done. ‬

"Thousands‭ ‬have‭ ‬surrendered‭ ‬but‭ ‬many‭ ‬have‭ ‬not‭ ‬been‭ ‬rehabilitated‭ ‬and‭ ‬our‭ ‬jails are‭ ‬heavily‭ ‬congested.‭ ‬Worse,‭ ‬the‭ ‬killing‭ of ‬the‭ ‬South‭ ‬Korean‭ ‬national [Jee Ick-joo],‭ ‬among‭ ‬many‭ ‬others, illustrates that Oplan Tokhang ‭is ‬susceptible ‭to ‬abuse ‭by ‬many ‭in ‬the police force,‭" the CHR continued.‬

PNP Chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa announced today that the police will again pursue President Duterte's drug war, but promised that it will be "less bloody."

Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on the Laity, also called on the government to stop the renewed campaign.

"Hindi na mag-tokhang. Hanap ng ibang paraan. Hanapin talaga yung mga sources [of illegal drugs]. Magpakita ng mga sources dahil yan yung mayayaman. I-apprehend nila ayon sa batas," Pabillo said.

"May pinakita silang factories noon. Sino ang hinuli nila? Linisin muna nila kapulisan nila. Dahil maraming pulis ang involved dyan. At may mga pulitiko involved dyan. Yan muna ang linisin nila," he added. 

Pabillo also junked the invitation of Dela Rosa for the church to join their anti-illegal drugs campaign.

"Sa ganyang mga title pa lang, hindi ako naniniwala na yan ay magiging mapayapa. Double-barrel? Nakakaduda sa title pa lang na binibigay nila," Pabillo said.

Pabillo said authorities will just "use" the priests' presence in Oplan Tokhang for propaganda. 

"Propaganda lang naman yun. May simbahan tapos babariln nila, kung sino-sinong tao ang babarilin. Tapos sisisihin kami na kasama kami sa programa? At gagamitin lang kami. Hindi kami sasama," Pabillo said.

But the relaunching of the anti-drug operation found an ally in the anti-crime group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC). The group's leaders said they believe that this more "transparent" police operation to curb the illegal drug trade will eventually lessen criminality in the country.

"This is more transparent, in-incorporate na nila ang church leaders at members ng barangay, male-legitimize na ang tokhang part two," VACC spokesman Boy Evangelista said.

The VACC also said it expects better results from the campaign against illegal drugs. 

"Expectations namin, mas malaki, sinama nila multi-sectoral, church leaders, barangay captains, piling-piling ang station commanders. Mas magiging effective ito. We are very positive at sinusuportahan namin ang mga ganitong intiiatives," Evangelista said.

The VACC said there were lessons learned from the first part of the anti-drug operation, particularly that such campaigns will only be effective if there will also be cleansing within the PNP.

"Lessons learned na hindi basta sino sino lang mag-operate, kung saan nagagamit ang Operation Tokhang sa ibang purpose," Evangelista said. 

President Duterte suspended the PNP from the drug war in January after the Korean businessman was killed allegedly by rogue cops. 

But last week, Duterte ordered the PNP to resume its role in the drug war.