Manila residents seek protection vs 'tokhang'

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 18 2017 06:43 PM | Updated as of Oct 18 2017 08:09 PM

MANILA (UPDATE)- Members of the religious and several residents of San Andres Bukid, Manila sought protection from the Supreme Court (SC) Wednesday against the Manila Police District's (MPD) "tokhang" (knock and plead) anti-drug operations, citing several drug-related deaths in their community. 

This even as the Philippine National Police has terminated the program nationwide following President Rodrigo Duterte's order to put the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) at the lead of his drug war. 

The 47 petitioners, led by Sister Ma. Juanita Daño of the Religious of the Good Shepherd and Francisco Blanco, Jr., brother of an alleged “tokhang” victim, urged the high court to bar MPD Station 6 “from conducting any anti-illegal drugs or anti-criminal operations in San Andres Bukid without the required coordination and presence of representatives from the barangay, the PDEA, the media and such other persons required to be notified or having the authority to be present at and observe such operations.”

The petitioners were represented by lawyers from the Center for International Law (Centerlaw) - Philippines in their 60-page petition for writ of amparo (protection). 

The amparo writ is a remedy available to any citizen whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by any unlawful act or omission of a public officer, or of a private individual or entity.

The petition pointed out 35 “drug-related deaths" in 26 barangays in the area within a year and one month. Some of the alleged victims were relatives of several of the petitioners.

Petitioners also urged the high court to prohibit the police from “soliciting, forcing, or coercing” barangay officials from submitting names of alleged drug users, pushers and/or troublemakers in the community “until the respondents have shown full compliance with constitutional and statutory requirements of due process, the requirements of the Data Privacy Act, and regulatory assurance against arbitrariness, bias, and criminal machination.”

They also sought the immediate issuance of a temporary protection order (TPO) prohibiting respondents from threatening to commit or committing acts that will violate their right to life, liberty, and security, and that of their immediate families and members of their households.

The petition also prayed for respondents to be prohibited from entering, within a radius of one kilometer, the petitioners' homes and places of work.

“With the alarming killings, relating to the drug war that have plagued their community, and given that the right to life, liberty, and security are basic human rights that everyone should respect and protect, the petitioners also have the interest of securing, protecting, and in seeking redress in order to protect the rights of their community members from threats of violations by the respondents,” the petition read.

Named as respondents in the petition were PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, MPD chief Chief Supt. Joel Napoleon Coronel, Supt. Olivia Sagaysay, Supt. Jerry Corpuz, Supt. Robert Domingo, and the following Station 6 police officers:

  • Senior Insp. Concorcio Pangilinan
  • PO3 Allan Escramosa
  • PO3 Rodolfo Ocampo Jr. 
  • PO2 Rhafael Rodriguez
  • PO2 Princeton Felia
  • PO2 Jocelyn Samson
  • PO2 Francisco Mendoza
  • PO2 Roestrell Ocampo
  • PO1 Harry Allan Cruz
  • PO1 Kennith Gaa 
  • PO1 Efren Guitering
  • Police Officer known as alias "Harry"
  • Police Officer known as alias "Jr"
  • Police Officer known as alias "Ivan"
  • Other John and Jane Does

A similar petition was filed against government’s drug war last Oct. 11 by three alleged “tokhang” victims. 

The pleading challenged the constitutionality of the PNP's Oplan Double Barrel also under the anti-drug campaign, and the Department of Interior and Local Government Memorandum Circular 2017-112 or the community-based "Masa Masid program," under which a "drop box" system of reporting drug suspects was established. 

The PNP earlier said some 3,800 drug suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations since the start of the campaign last year. Human rights groups place the death toll at 13,000, but the administration said this figure is overblown. 

Government has asserted that it does not sanction summary killings and that those slain in legitimate police operations had put up violent resistance.