By Jan Arcilla / Manila Times
The Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday said it was amenable to ending its drug war (Oplan Tokhang) if Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo will order it.
“Yes, the PNP is open to the possibility of scrapping Oplan Tokhang,” PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac told Manila Times in a text message.
Banac said the PNP was behind Robredo in making the drug war “successful.”
“We support Vice President Robredo in her capacity as drug czar and co-chairman of ICAD (Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs),” he added.
Under Tokhang, policemen knock on houses and urge drug suspects to end their illegal activities.
But Tokhang operations however, have led to the killing of hundreds of drug suspects, leading Robredo to remark that it was a campaign against the poor.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the lead agency in the campaign against illegal drugs, was mum on the possible scrapping of Tokhang.
“We’d rather not to comment on that since Tokhang is a project of the PNP,” PDEA spokesman Derrick Carreon told Manila Times.
Robredo yesterday said she would let the PNP and the PDEA craft a new programme to fight illegal drugs.
“I’d rather have the law enforcers conceptualise a more effective programme so they can own it.
It is hard if we will dictate on them,” she told reporters.
The vice president will meet with United States embassy officials today to discuss the drug problem in the country.
She also plans to meet with members of international groups to seek their advice.
“I want to find out what resources are available for intelligence. We need help in going after big-time drug lords,” Robredo said.She also welcomed Malacanang’s decision allowing her to scrap Oplan Tokhang.
“If I will not be given the chance, why am I here? It was a big relief that the Palace said that publicly,” Robredo told reporters on the sidelines of the Women Influence Forum in Pasay City.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo on Monday said Robredo could stop the implementation of Oplan Tokhang if she had a better strategy to fight the drug problem.
The vice president said she was ready to appear at the House of Representatives to lay down her plans as co-chairman of ICAD. “I really want that because it will be a platform to show the new direction of the anti-drug campaign,” she said.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, who heads the committee, said they would invite Robredo to find out her “new strategies” on how to address the problem on illegal drugs.
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