Nothing new, more of the same in drug war
The reentry of the police in “Oplan Tokhang” with new operational guidelines is no assurance against the bloodbath of last year—with no change in government policy or President Duterte’s kill-all philosophy.
Tokhang’s original guidelines on paper, pointedly, did not authorize police to kill all addicts. Mr. Duterte did. Law enforcement stoked public fear and terror through the dark nights and dreary days, emboldened by the President and unhindered neither by law nor conscience. New guidelines, body cameras, or time restrictions will likewise not shield the people from abuses and rights violations. Not now, with an entire system of rewards, incentives, and impunity already in place.
The problem with tokhang stems from a fundamental error in thinking that drugs are solely a criminal law problem, and largely cured by eliminating demand rather than supply. The drug problem is a complex social issue that exposes the roots and effects of poverty politics. Mr. Duterte cannot end drugs. Not in six months, not in six years.
With tokhang’s underlying principles, specific directives, and enforcers askew—and Mr. Duterte’s bloodthirst unabated—how can our daily survival under tokhang 3.0 be any different under the original tokhang or reloaded 2.0?
JULIAN F. OLIVA, adviser and MARIA KRISTINA C. CONTI, secretary general, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-NCR
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