MANILA, Philippines – After landing in the infamous drug list of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), over 200 barangay officials will now find themselves waiting for the day when cops come to knock on their doors to plead with them to surrender.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) announced on Thursday, May 10, that it would soon conduct Oplan Tokhang visitations on the drug-linked barangay officials.
"Ang ni-request sa amin ng PDEA is for these personalities to be included in our Tokhang operations (The PDEA requested that we include these personalities in our Tokhang operations)," PNP Director for Operations Chief Superintendent Ma-o Aplasca said in a Camp Crame press briefing on the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections 2018.
Why conduct Oplan Tokhang? The PNP has to follow the PDEA as the latter is mandated by law and by an executive order by President Rodrigo Duterte to be the lead agency in the country's campaign against illegal drugs.
The call for the barangay officials' surrender and rehabilitation comes amid possible oversights in PDEA's intelligence work. (READ: PDEA admits cases vs officials in drug list 'not airtight')
Just a day after PDEA released the barangay narco list, it was revealed that one of the officials on the list named officials had been dead since January 2017 and was not on the local police's drug watch list.
What if they won't surrender? The barangay officials will face the possibility of fullblown anti-illegal drug operations – missions that have ended bloody under Duterte's PNP.
"If they don't surrender, the next action of the PNP is to conduct case build-up operations and we will now start to operate," Aplasca added in a mix of English and Filipino.
Election offense: In an opinion piece for Rappler, election lawyer Emil Marañon III said PDEA's release of names without filing charges against the barangay officials is unconstitutional. The move can also be considered an election offense. It constitutes electioneering and partisan political activity because it was intended to work against the candidacies of those running on May 14. – Rappler.com
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.