PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has not ordered the resumption of “Oplan Tokhang” and “Oplan Double Barrel”, the campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP) against illegal drugs, a Malacanang spokesman said on Tuesday.
Secretary Harry Roque issued the clarification after Duterte ordered the return of the PNP to the war on drugs but only to support the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which is the lead agency in the campaign.
“It’s very clear, he already issued the memorandum that the PNP should assist anew, the PDEA, in conducting the anti-drug operations in the country. So the memorandum speaks for itself,” Roque said.
“PDEA remains the lead. I suppose the PNP would have to coordinate with PDEA,” Roque said.
The Palace statement came as PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa said that while suggestions to drop the names of the its drug campaign were “well-taken,” it was the “least of his concerns.”
“What’s in the name? Least of my concerns is the name. Results are more important,” de la Rosa said in a press briefing in Camp Crame on Tuesday.
De la Rosa said critics of the “war on drugs” would still find ways to attack police anti-drug operations even if their names were changed. “Tokhang” originally means “knock and plead” but was now considered by the public as a word which meant to “kill”.
“Even if you deodorize the campaign, the critics will still find holes in it,” de la Rosa said.
De la Rosa said that “Double Barrel” and “Tokhang” went through lots of modifications and even kidded that the names were now changed to “Double Barrel Caution” and “Oplan Tokhang Petition”, referring to victims who have gone to court to question the legality of these campaigns.
“It’s the third edition of the ‘Double Barrel’. [Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang] have undergone many revisions,” Dela Rosa said.
De la Rosa reiterated that the police did not “control the situation” whenever they conducted anti-drug operations. He said he was hoping that the war on drugs won’t be as violent now that the PNP was back.
“I hope it won’t be bloody as before…I hope the drug personalities won’t fight back. I hope that happens,” De la Rosa said.
On Monday, Aquino suggested to PNP to drop “Oplan Double Barrel” and “Oplan Tokhang” to give Deputy Director Ramon Apolinario, who was reported to be the next police chief, a fresh start in leading the anti-drug operations.
“I suggest no more slogans, no more calling it ‘Double Barrel’. These are just simply buy-bust operations,” Aquino said.
“The public thinks that tokhang is synonymous to killing. ‘Do you want to be tokhang-ed?’ It means ‘Do you want to get killed?’” Aquino added. LLANESCA PANTI, RJ CARBONELL