Press Release
January 30, 2018

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580

Relaunch of Oplan Tokhang, a superficial makeover of Duterte’s ineffective drug war

“The relaunch of the police and Duterte administration’s Oplan Tokhang, after being suspended twice in 2017, is a tacit admission that there is something fundamentally wrong with these policies regarding the drug war, and yet here is Duterte and his Philippine National Police (PNP) again, trying to shove what the Filipino people have already spewed out. It is a superficial makeover of a policy that has earned public condemnation,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the resumption of Tokhang operations yesterday, January 29, 2018, with “new” guidelines.

Palabay also emphasized that although guidelines directing the activities under Oplan Tokhang have been amended, Oplan Double Barrel remains the same.

In a memorandum released by Malacañang on December 5, 2017, Duterte brought back the PNP in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations. Memorandum No. 17 mentions that there has been a notable resurgence in illegal drug activities and crimes committed in relation to drug use since the PNP was directed to leave the implementation of anti-illegal drug operations to the PDEA.

“The fact that this memo admits resurgence in illegal drug activities merely indicates that the more than a year of Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel has been ineffective. Such a militarist approach ignores the multifaceted nature of the problem, primarily its economic roots. The entire campaign has snowballed into a display of blatant lies, police brutality, injustice and the seemingly endless pit of drug trade. This is precisely because such a short-sighted solution will inevitably fail to solve a comprehensive, deep-rooted problem,” explained Palabay.

Karapatan also questioned provisions indicated in the PNP Supplemental Operational Guidelines in the Conduct of Tokhang, particularly the involvement of human rights advocates in the PNP’s operations and the time period of operations between 8am to 5pm.
“The PNP has already tried the rhetoric that the drug campaign will be a ‘gentler’ campaign, but it completely misses the point. It doesn’t matter if operations are only between 8am to 5pm, if you have a corrupt police force who disrespects human rights and considers themselves above the law, violations are inevitable regardless of the time. Furthermore, no self-respecting human rights advocate will deliberately involve themselves in such operations,” added Palabay.

The said guidelines also mentioned that activities are intelligence-driven. Palabay commented that “with ridiculous ploys such as installing dropboxes and the police’s admission that they used social media to validate drug allegations against 17-year-old Kian delos Santos who was killed by elements of the Caloocan police on August 16, 2017, this raises more concern than relief. At the end of the day, this entire campaign is doomed to fail because its logic disregards so many aspects of drug use, its solution superficial, and its main implementers are very much part of the problem.”

“To claim that this campaign is in adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights is laughable. How many policemen have escaped accountability? How many are emboldened to murder the poor with a free pass? The poor’s right to due process have been violated over and over again. Ultimately, this bloody campaign brings us to a dark realization: a still prevalent drug trade, a fraudulent police force, and thousands of poor Filipinos dead,” concluded Palabay.


Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.