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PNP hypes low body count in Tokhang V2, swears its driven by ‘intel’ not guesswork

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The Philippine National Police (PNP) assured Wednesday that the reactivated campaign against illegal drugs with new and stricter guidelines shall be “intelligence-driven”.

“‘Tokhang’ operations shall be intelligence-driven, targeting suspected illegal drugs personalities listed by the Directorate for Intelligence,” PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, said during the Real Numbers press briefing in Malacanan.

The war on drugs was temporarily suspended in early 2017 following reports of abuses committed by some police officers engaged in the operations against drugs suspects.

Bulalacao said “Tokhang” was reactivated on Jan. 29 with the hope of sustaining noble gains that have so far yielded more than 1.3 million drug personalities who opted to voluntarily surrender.

He said the PNP’s supplemental guidelines in the conduct of the war on drugs “are essentially founded on the fundamental principles of respect for human rights and strict adherence to the rule of law with greater emphasis on transparency, accountability and command responsibility”.

“We are confident that this time, police interdiction operations against illegal drugs will be carried out with greater efficiency and with less violent confrontations between law enforcers and offenders,” he added.

The PNP official underscored that rule of law shall always prevail during the conduct of all anti-illegal drug-related activities, including “Tokhang”.

“This is the reason why PNP has come out with new set of guidelines to be followed strictly by the members of the PNP in the lower units,” Bulalacao said.

He said anti-drug law enforcers are now equipped with body armor and body camera and other equipment, complemented by skills, training and enhanced tactical capability.

“We are trying to emphasize that our efforts against illegal drugs should be as much as possible bloodless, except during times when the targets put up a fight against our policemen,” Bulalacao explained.

He said compared to the campaign against illegal drugs before it was suspended, “this time it has recorded lower deaths”.

He said 53 deaths were reported to the PNP by its lower units since it reactivated Oplan Double-Barrel or the campaign against high-value targets and street-level pushers.

As of Feb. 8, the total number of drug personalities who died in anti-drug operations has reached 4,021 while police killed-in-action were 87 since July 1, 2016.

The war on drugs under the Duterte administration has already outnumbered the six-year campaign of his predecessor in terms of arrested drug personalities.

Under Duterte’s campaign, the arrested drug personalities were 121,087, or more than 43,000 higher compared to those arrested during former president Benigno Aquino III’s six-year term.

The President has promised to continue his war on drugs despite criticisms from opposition and local and international rights groups. (PNA)