Cordillera execs eye 'Tokhang' on top of Red-tagging vs Left-leaning individuals, including journalists
BAGUIO CITY—A regional law enforcement body working with the Cordillera police had approved a resolution recommending “Tokhang-style” tactic against individuals, including journalists, who are being tagged as communist rebels or supporters.
At least 45 Cordillera officials sitting in the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC) signed the undated resolution, a copy of which was obtained by the INQUIRER on Wednesday (Feb. 24).
Lawyer Romel Daguimol, regional chief of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), was among those who signed the resolution, along with other key government officials in the region.
The resolution stated that a “concerted effort” among all member agencies of RLECC and stakeholders was needed “to address the insurgency problem” in the region.
It said a strategy was needed to end the insurgency. Oplan Tokhang is the anti-drug strategy engineered by former police chief and now Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa at the start of the Duterte administration to flush out drug pushers and users through a house-to-house campaign that supposedly did not involve the use of force but just persuasion.
The strategy, however, is now being blamed for hundreds of cases of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects who had been visited at home by police and ended up getting killed in what police said were “nanlaban” situations or those in which the suspects fought back.
Ending the insurgency in Cordillera, the RLECC resolution said, “could be by way of Oplan Tokhang strategy being used in the government’s war on drugs.” It said it would involve visiting or knocking on residences similar to what had been done to drug suspects.
“Oplan Tokhang will also be employed to convince Left-leaning personalities to return to the folds of the government (sic),” the resolution said.
It would be elevated to the regional peace and order council “for concurrence and adoption” and to solicit the support of governors and mayors.
Christina Palabay, secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan, and Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, denounced the resolution.
The two activist leaders, who are also victims of Red-tagging, said the resolution “violates basic human rights, including freedom of association and right to due process.”