No priests, no problem – Taliño

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol March 15,2017 - 02:33 PM


Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said he respects the decision of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma not to let priests in the archdiocese to join the Oplan Tokhang or any anti-illegal drugs operations of the police.

“I have no problem with that. Anyway, asking priests to accompany us in the Tokhang was just an invitation,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Taliño said PRO-7 and the Cebu Archdiocese continue to collaborate in the rehabilitation of drug surenderers through Church-based programs.

“The Philippine National Police has no capability of undertaking drug rehabilitation for surrenderers, and many of them just go back to what they used to do because nothing happened to them. We’re happy with the program done by the archdiocese,” he said referring to the CAPDD.

“Maganda ang relations ng simbahan at ng mga pulis dito sa region. (We have a good relationship with the archdiocese here). We continue to work together to reach out to surenderers,” he added.

Taliño said he nonetheless welcomes lay ministers or any representative from the Church to join in the Oplan Tokhang which is headed by the station police chiefs.

Archbishop Palma on Tuesday strictly prohibited all priests in the archdiocese from joining the anti-illegal drug campaign of the police.

The 66-year-old prelate said taking part in police operations is beyond the mandate of the clergy.

“That is not the area of our calling. I’m very sorry to say that while Tokhang may have started with the best of intentions, it has (now) rather gained unfortunate or bad reputation,” he said.

The Oplan Tokhang is a campaign that involves policemen knocking on houses of drug suspects and asking them to surrender.

To avoid suspicions that drug suspects who refused to cooperate were killed, the Philippine National Police invited barangay officials, priests, and members of other religious denominations to join them in the operations.

From July 1 to Jan. 30 — the time when President Rodrigo Duterte prohibited all policemen from conducting anti-drug operations over a controversy, 106,980 drug pushers and users surrendered to the police in Central Visayas.

Palma clarified that the Catholic Church is fully supporting the administration’s war on illegal drugs although the manner it has been highly questionable.

Since July 1, at least 7,000 drug suspects were killed throughout the country. Of the number, 2,555 were gunned down in police operations while the rest were killed by unknown assailants.

Although priests are not allowed to join police operations, Palma said lay ministers can if they want to.

Instead of joining police operations, Palma encouraged priests to focus on helping rehabilitate drug addicts.

Last Feb. 21, the Archdiocese of Cebu launched the Cebu Archdiocesan Program for Drug Dependents (CAPDD), replicating two smaller community and center-based programs that reached out and help more drug dependents overcome their addiction.

The local church led by Palma forged a partnership with barangay captains, the police, and other agencies of government for the rehabilitation of drug surrenderers throughout the city and province of Cebu.

Since July 1, at least 300 drug surenderers were cleared of illegal drugs use after taking part in two drug rehabilitation programs organized by Church-based organizations in Cebu: the Surrender to God and Lahat Bangon.

The Archdioceae of Cebu is the biggest in the country with about 400 diocesan priests and 300 others from different religious organizations, and about 4 million lay Catholics.

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TAGS: anti-drugs, anti-illegal drugs, Cebu, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, drugs, Oplan TokHang, priests, PRO 7, shabu, Tokhang

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