PNP-Church partnership Less bloody anti-drug campaign expected
The Archdiocese of Cebu welcomed the pronouncement of Police Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa inviting priests as they resume their anti-drug operations.
Msgr. Joseph Tan, Archdiocesan media liaison officer, said that they are happy that government wants to work hand in hand with the church.
“I think this partnership will lead to better results. They see the church as potential partners,” Msgr. Tan told Cebu Daily News yesterday.
Dela Rosa earlier said that the church would be a big help to make the anti-drug campaign less bloody.
“The partnership will also avoid moral questions. This will also ensure keeping the law of the land and of God,” Msgr. Tan added.
Asked whether they would join anti-drug operations, Msgr. Tan said they have not received any invitation or notice from the PNP.
Cebu City Police Director Senior Supt. Joel Doria said the idea of Tokhang is for the police and the barangays to work hand in hand.
“Ang concept ng tokhang natin kakatukin lang kasama ang barangay officials. May sticker tayong ilalagay sa bahay. ‘Yung blue ibig sabihin known user or pusher nagsurrender siya. Kapag yung red naman ibig sabihin drug-free house siya,” Doria said.
(The concept of our Tokhang, together with the barangay officials, is really to knock on the doors . We will put sticker on the house. If the sticker is blue, a known user or pusher has surrendered. While if the sticker is red, it means it is a drug-free house)
He said this is a joint project of the police and the Association of Barangay Council (ABC) in Cebu City lead by Tisa Barangay Captain Philip Zafra.
He said he welcomed the idea of bringing a priest along in Tokhang operations, saying this may help the people understand better the concept of Oplan:Tokhang.
“Namimisinterpret nila ’yung meaning ng Tokhang. Akala nila kapag tinokhang ang isang tao, kala papatayin,” Doria said.
(They misinterpret the meaning of Tokhang. They think if a person is subject of Tokhang, he would be killed.)
Doria claimed that there is not a single case in Cebu City where a person who was subject of Tokhang was eventually killed.
“Balak ko sana pastor kasi kung priest baka hindi makaya lahat dahil marami tayong stations. Hihingi tayo ng clearance from region (Police Regional Office-7), kapag papayagan tayo isasama natin ang pastor,” Doria said.
(I was planning to have pastor because we have a lot of police stations and the priests might not be able to participate in all the operations. We will first ask clearance from PRO-7 if they would allow pastors to join the Tokhang)
Zafra meanwhile said Tokhang operations should be properly planned and should have better coordination with barangay officials.
“I am fully supportive with that idea. In fact, I myself always accompany our authorities in the conduct of their operation against illegal drugs,” said Zafra who is also the barangay captain of Tisa.
“However, I would suggest that we should sit down with the PNP first and plan it out properly if only to effectively and efficiently implement this new policy of our office in connection with our duty to protect our people,” he added.
The resumption of the PNP anti-drug campaign will include having policemen wear body cameras to record the anti-drug operation, said Dela Rosa.
He also assured that the operations will be led by municipal chiefs of police and barangay captains of the areas targeted for drug raids. This will be called “Oplan Tokhang Part 2.”
“We are very much willing to partner with them (PNP) once again, sit down and map out plans,” Zafra said.
Over the past few weeks, the ABC has conducted a series of meetings between barangay captains, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 7 on how to strengthen coordination during anti-drug operations.
The Church has been involved in its own drug rehabilitation programs for drug surrenderers.
Last week, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma led graduation rites of the sixth batch of drug surrenderers in Liloan, northern Cebu.
These people underwent a center-based drug rehabilitation program called Surrender to God.
The Cebu Archdiocesan Program for Drug Dependents was also launched to expand the Church’s program to save drug surrenderers.
“There are trainors, and trainings have been provided for them (drug surrenderers). We have also volunteers who help them,” Msgr. Tan added.
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