Malacañang wants 'less controversial' Tokhang operations

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang, on the first day of the resumption of Oplan Tokhang, said it hopes the campaign would have an improved image as the Philippine National Police (PNP) implements new guidelines for it.

"We are certainly hoping that it will be less controversial," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday, January 29, during a Palace press briefing.

Controversy is undesirable, he said, because it "will only blur the real intentions behind the Tokhang which is really the fight against dangerous drugs." (READ: PNP chief invites public to join Oplan Tokhang)

Malacañang also welcomed the PNP's declaration that they want a less bloody war on drugs. 

"We are hoping it will be [less bloody] and we welcome the statement by the PNP as reaffirming their commitment to the rule of law," said President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman.

The Palace also said it hopes the police have "learned from their past experience" in implementing the President's campaign against illegal drugs.

Duterte, in December 2017, ordered the PNP to return to the drug war but under the supervision of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

During the time the PNP was not a major player in the drug war, the PDEA said only two persons were killed in anti-drug operations.

The PNP's Oplan Tokhang resumes with a new set of rules, including the prohibition of operations at night and on weekends and the requirement that human rights officers and advocates must be present during operations.

Police have been under fire for the deaths of thousands of drug suspects, including teenagers. Duterte then admitted some policemen were abusing their power to implement the campaign. (READ: Duterte's drug war in 2017: The year of deaths and denials) – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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