FACT CHECK: Calida says during Tokhang police don’t barge into homes

Jodesz Gavilan
FACT CHECK: Calida says during Tokhang police don’t barge into homes
Solicitor General Jose Calida tells the Supreme Court that the police do not 'insist and just move on to the next house' if individuals do not want to let them in. Media coverage of at least 5 drug war deaths show otherwise.

MANILA, Philippines – Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday, December 5, painted a picture of a police force respectful of suspected drug users. 

Responding to the questions of Supreme Court Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe on how the police handle alleged drug personalities who refuse to open their doors during Tokhang operations, Calida said that the police “do not insist and just move on to the next house.”

“Let me make this clear, your honor, the police just knock on the door and the police are not allowed to enter the house,” he said. “They just talk with the person who will open the door and if the person does not like to talk to them, they move on.”

A key component of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war, Tokhang refers to operations where cops visit the homes of suspected drug personalities to ask them to surrender and undergo rehabilitation.

The police are definitely expected to follow protocols – uphold the rights of suspected individuals and the rule of law – when conducting these anti-drug operations. 

Media coverage of at least two drug war incidents that have resulted in the deaths of 5, however, refute the claim of Calida. (READ: The Impunity Series)

The following are victims:

This has been an all-too-familiar scenario in several incidents of drug war deaths since July 2016, such as in Tondo, Manila: 

  • Rex Aparri
    – Killed in his home in Tondo, Manila allegedly by Alvarez, beat patrolman of Delpan Police Community Precinct (READ: Where the drug war began
    – Police reports say he “suddenly drew out his gun and fired shot on the approaching lawmen but he missed his mark”
    – His family, however, recalled that he pleaded to be just arrested instead of killed

While the above-mentioned incidents may include “only” 5 people killed, the circumstances of their deaths – the pleadings, the absence of illegal drugs, and manner of deaths – confirm that police do not always just “move on” to another house. (READ: In the PH drug war, it’s likely EJK when…)

Latest data from the PNP shows that the PNP “visited and knocked” on a total of 8,827,489 households from July 1, 2016, to October 10, 2017. While these operations led to the surrender of 1,262,188 people, the deaths – 3,933 to be exact – are still hard to ignore. – Rappler.com

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.