MADUGONG PASKO AT BAGONG TAON | ‘Tokhang’ return to PNP means ‘Yuletide mourning among poor’ – lawmaker

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Activists take part in a rally after 91 people were shot dead in just one week in August in an escalation of President Duterte's war on drugs. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

(UPDATED – 8:07 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — The return of the administration’s drug war in the hands of the Philippine National Police (PNP) would mean a new chapter of “mourning and wailing” for the usual targets of the campaign, a partylist lawmaker said.

“The PNP’s return at the helm of the drug war would be a return to a reign of error and terror at Yuletide. Instead of a joyous Christmas, there will be mourning and wailing among the poor, who are targets of the drug war,” Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin said.

“It would exacerbate an already messy campaign, further erode the rule of law, and institutionalize violence to solve the drug problem,” he added.

Villarin proposed to keep the drug campaign under the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), especially because the PNP’s guidelines are currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court.

“PNP Chief dela Rosa should likewise shut his mouth and reflect on the damage the extra-judicial killings have caused to the PNP institution,” Villarin said.

“Everybody wants the drug problem solved. But it cannot be solved through a blanket denial of EJKs and a mockery of our justice system,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros said Duterte’s plan to return the war on drugs to the PNP “despite the current plight of corruption and abuse plaguing the police institution, is not only ill advised, but a real danger to the public and the greater goal of true peace and order.”

“Returning the anti-drug campaign to an unreformed PNP is a slide back into the nightmare of Tokhang. It is a return to the horrors of extrajudicial killings,” said Hontiveros in a statement issued Friday.

“It opens up the dangerous possibility of another Kian Delos Santos, of hundreds if not thousands more dead, and the further loss of trust of the public in our police force,” she added.

The lawmaker said she was suspecting that “Duterte does not want the PDEA’s alternative anti-drug approach, which is less bloody and more observant of the rule of law and human rights, to succeed” as it was “already shaming the President’s abusive and inefficient Oplan Tokhang and teaching the public that there is a better way to address the country’s drug problem.”

“We cannot return to a Tokhang past. We cannot inflict this nightmare upon our countrymen and women anew. The most important step for the PNP is to cleanse its ranks, regain the trust of the public and redeem its reputation,” she said.

“We also need to see to it that the investigation of the EJK cases that happened during the time of PNP-led Tokhang pushes through and justice is served. Only then can we banish the specter of fear and death and move forward towards the dream of genuine safety,” added Hontiveros.