PNP launches ‘Life After Tokhang’ drug rehab program

Rambo Talabong
PNP launches ‘Life After Tokhang’ drug rehab program
The Philippine National Police (PNP) expands its role in the drug war to include rehabilitation

MANILA, Philippines – What comes after TokHang?

The Philippines National Police (PNP) took it upon themselves to manage what follows, as it launched on Monday, October 2, its own rehabilitation program: Life After TokHang, or simply, LIFT.

LIFT is described as a “PNP-initiated, community-based recovery and wellness program” which “seeks to assist and facilitate recovery from drug abuse and dependence.”

The program targets surrenderees of the PNP’s Oplan TokHang, the popular police operation involving cops knocking on the door of drug suspects to check if they possess illegal substances. (READ: Drug addiction is a health problem. Somebody please tell the President.)

Usually the searches lead to arrests, or fatal shootouts. LIFT is for those caught and those who surrendered, which number by hundreds of thousands.

For the endeavor, the PNP partnered with the Rispondé Foundation, and plans it to “complement” recovery schemes of the Department of Health (DOH).

Pause on operations?

LIFT rises at a time when the PNP faces efforts that seek to bring the war on drugs down, as more and more deaths taint their campaign against narcotics.

From July 1, 2016 to September 16, 2017, some 3,850 drug suspects have been killed by police in drug operations, and some 2,290 civilians have been killed for narcotics-related motives.

The numbers have been tainted with controversy after reports have accused some police of going rogue by killing even suspects who have surrendered.

With the drug war getting bloodier every day, many have called for shift to a holistic approach, stressing the need for rehabilitation for the suspects.

The PNP has yet to release the details of how they plan to change thousands of lives, but with LIFT now in motion, they hope to fill in a hole long condemned by pundits, but much needed by drug dependents. – 

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.