Northern Mindanao

Bato dela Rosa urges revival of ‘Oplan Tokhang’ in drug war

Merlyn Manos

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Bato dela Rosa urges revival of ‘Oplan Tokhang’ in drug war

BATO DELA ROSA. Senator Bato dela Rosa in Iligan City on October 14, 2022.

Screengrab from Iligan Facebook page

Senator Bato dela Rosa says the controversial strategy against drug suspects should be implemented again, without favor

ILIGAN, Philippines – Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Friday, October 14, called for a revival of “Oplan Tokhang” in fighting illegal drugs in the country, similar to the controversial strategy he led as police chief during the early years of the Duterte administration.

Dela Rosa said this on the sidelines of Iligan Mayor Frederick Siao’s State of the City Address (SOCA) on Friday afternoon, around the same time prosecutors filed an illegal drug possession case against the eldest son of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla before a Las Piñas regional trial court.

Pressed by reporters, Dela Rosa declined to comment on the case of Juanito Jose III and calls for the resignation of his father.

Dela Rosa told Iligan reporters, “Wala pa ko kakuha sa balita ana. ‘Di sa ko mag-comment. Basahon pa na ko ang balita (I haven’t been informed about that news. I won’t comment yet. I have yet to read the news.)

But he also pushed for the revival of Oplan Tokhang, and to subject even children of government officials to it.

Dela Rosa said, “Dapat ibalik ang tokhang. Wa may pili na. Tanan jud, tanan. (Tokhang should be implemented again without favor. Everyone should be subjected to it, and I mean, everyone.)

The senator led the Duterte administration’s bloody drug war when he served as Philippine National Police (PNP) chief from 2016 to 2018.

“Tokhang,” a word coined from “toktok” (knock) and “hangyo” (plead), was a police campaign that was supposedly meant to ask people on the government’s drug watchlist to stop their criminal activities. The word, however, became synonymous with extrajudicial and vigilante-style killings of drug suspects during the Duterte administration.

The strategy was widely criticized for targeting poor drug suspects.

The government estimated that some 8,000 people were killed in law enforcement operations during the Duterte drug war, but human rights monitors said the number could reach up to 30,000.

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Dela Rosa, who was among the officials of the Duterte administration named in an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s report on extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, said in late 2021 that he was ready to face an ICC investigation.

Speaking before an Iligan crowd, Dela Rosa reminded parents of their responsibilities in guiding their children and keeping them away from substance abuse, saying it all starts with the family – the most basic unit of society.

“Kitang mga ginikanan, ayaw intawon mo pagkalimot og pagpangga sa atong mga anak. Kitang mga anak, panggaon nato ang atong mga ginikanan. The absence of that sa atong panimalay, mao na ang mga bata moadto sa droga. Mao kinahanglan magtibangay ta para ang mga bata dili mapalayo sa atoa ug malayo sa droga,” Dela Rosa said.

 (We, parents, should not forget that we should show our children that we love them. And we, children, should love our parents. Children turn to drugs when that is absent in the home. That is why we need to help each other so that children will not stray and stay away from illegal drugs.)

The Marcos administration had said that it will continue the war against drugs but will focus on reform and rehabilitation. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    Is “tokhang” not contradictory with the focus on reform and rehabilitation in the drug war by President Marcos Jr.’s administration? If yes, then Senator Bato dela Rosa should respect the change of focus under the new President.

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