“Not only does it violate basic civil rights by arbitrarily judging people sans due process, it also poses a real danger to life and limb given the trail of bodies tokhang has left in the drug war.”
By EMILY VITAL
MANILA – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called on the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC) in the Cordillera to drop its plan to conduct “tokhang” operations against “left-leaning personalities in government, media and other entities.
In a resolution, the RLECC-Cordillera Administrative Region enjoins enforcement agencies and local government units to adopt “tokhang” as a tactic in counterinsurgency.
The NUJP dubbed the resolution as “anathema to democracy.” “Not only does it violate basic civil rights by arbitrarily judging people sans due process, it also poses a real danger to life and limb given the trail of bodies tokhang has left in the drug war,” the NUJP said in a statement.
“Tokhang,” which literally means knock and plead, has gained its notoriety for claiming thousands of lives. According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, there are 5,601 persons killed by the police since the launch of Double Barrel in July 1, 2016 until Jan. 31, 2020. In President Duterte’s 2017 Year-End report, there are also 16,355 “homicide cases as under investigations” listed as accomplishments in the fight against illegal drugs.
In a separate statement, human rights alliance Karapatan pointed out that the tokhang operations “have been bloody,” prompting relatives of victims to file a complaint before the International Criminal Court against Duterte for crimes against humanity.
In its preliminary examination, the ICC has found “reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity of murder, torture and the infliction of serious physical injury and mental harm as other inhumane Acts were committed.”
By adopting the same tactic, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said the resolution “is a direct violation of people’s right to due process, to freedom of association, against illegal search and yes, the right to life.”