Dela Rosa on calls to drop Tokhang term: ‘What’s in a name?’

Rambo Talabong
Dela Rosa on calls to drop Tokhang term: ‘What’s in a name?’
'What is important is the result, anong nangyari sa kampanya mo. Wala iyan sa pangalan,' says PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa is lukewarm to calls to drop the use of the term “Tokhang” in the war on drugs.

Dela Rosa said in a news briefing on Tuesday, December 12, that while he would consider the suggestion of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), what matters in the end is the result.

“We’ll take in ‘yung kanyang (his) suggestion, but what’s in a name? What is important is the result, anong nangyari sa kampanya mo (the results of in your campaign). Wala iyan sa pangalan (It’s not in the name),” the PNP chief said.

PDEA chief Director General Aaron Aquino had made the suggestion as “Tokhang” has become synonymous “to kill.” 

At the outset, PNP promoted Oplan Tokhang as a knock and plead operation where police would knock on the door of a drug suspect and “plead” with him to surrender. In some cases, however, the suspect would end up dead for allegedly fighting back. (READ: In the PH drug war, it’s likely EJK when…)

Dela Rosa added that even if the PNP decides to drop the label, critics would still find ways to attack the campaign.

Hahanapan ka pa rin ng butas diyan. Gagawan ka pa rin ng kuwento diyan (They will still look for flaws there. They will still make up stories there),” he said without naming the critics he was referring to. 

Dela Rosa said he wished that the PNP’s return to the drug war would yield less bloody results.

“Sana masusian namin ang isip ng mga drug personality na huwag lumaban para walang patayan walang barilan. Sana walang mangyari (I hope we can figure out how we can stop drug personalities from fighting back to stop killings and shootings. I hope nothing happens),” Dela Rosa said.

Aquino and Dela Rosa’s exchange comes at a time when the PNP is crafting new rules to their drug war, after President Rodrigo Duterte reminded the agencies that PDEA should “lead” the charge in his key campaign. –

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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.