The Philippine National Police on Friday expressed openness to placing “Oplan Tokhang” under review following Vice President Leni Robredo’s renewed call for the organization to rethink its anti-narcotics strategy.
PNP officer-in-charge PLt. Gen. Archie Gamboa said this was in response to the recent Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) meeting wherein Robredo, the panels’ co-chair, called for a reassessment of Oplan Tokhang.
Robredo had claimed that Tokhang, wherein police visit homes of suspected drug personalities and urge them to surrender, has acquired a negative connotation due to the public perception that it is “a war against the poor.” She urged all concerned agencies to come up with a more humane way of going after drug suspects to prevent more “senseless killings.”
“We were able to convince her that maybe what is needed is a repackaging or a retooling on how it is going to be presented,” said Gamboa. “But she is convinced that indeed the Philippine Anti-Drug Strategy is already a strategy that can be adopted outright, of letting the people feel na the existence of such a strategy.”
Gamboa said Robredo also proposed for Oplan Double Barrel, the upgraded version of Oplan Tokhang, to be more community-based.
“So, all of this are kind of geared towards the declaration of drug-free barangays,” Gamboa said.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday the Vice President should go to Congress and not to the media if she wants more funds for the ICAD.
“When she announces [her plans], drug lords also listen right? So why announce? Just make command conference, talk to the people, do a good job,” said Cayetano.
“We need more funds? Then don’t say it to the media, drug lords would know that the you will get more funds and where the funds would go,” he said.
Cayetano added, “Meet with congressmen and we will give you the funds if needed.”
Robredo is seeking an increase in the 2020 budget for the anti-illegal drug campaign, particularly in areas of rehabilitation and prevention.
She said the P15 million funding for ICAD is not enough considering its wide responsibilities.
Robredo is also asking Congress for funds to implement the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drug Strategy, a program developed by the Dangerous Drugs Board, one of the agencies under ICAD.
Cayetano has earlier criticized Robredo of being “all talk” since she assumed post as ICAD co-chair. With Keith Calayag