'Tokhang' vs activists? PNP seeks balance between Reds defeat, human rights

Published August 25, 2021, 8:57 AM

by Aaron Recuenco 

The Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council (CRPOC) is seeking a ‘tokhang’-type of campaign against activists and persons believed to be connected with the alleged front organizations of the communist rebels.

In its resolution, the CRPOC reportedly sought law enforcement agencies, including the Philippine National Police (PNP), to join as local officials in the Cordillera Administrative Region visit the house of members and supporters of what the Council refers to as Communist Front Organizations (CFOs).

In a statement, PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar said they will provide assistance in a way that will not step into the human rights of those who would be subjected to house visitation.

“The Philippine National Police appreciates the effort of the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council in coming up with new ideas to finally put an end to the decades-long communist insurgency problem in the country,” said Eleazar in a statement.

“On the part of the PNP, we will provide assistance in a way that will strike a balance between our collective goal of defeating the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines) and our commitment to respect and uphold the basic human rights of every Filipino,” he added.

Eleazar said he had already instructed the regional director of the Police Regional Office of the Cordillera Administrative Region to coordinate with the CRPOC).

Dubbed as ‘Dumanun Makituntong’, the plan is to visit members of leftist organizations and other people who would be perceived to be supporters of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

The campaign was inspired by the ‘tuktuk hangyo’ (knock and plead), or Tokhang, which was implemented in the campaign against illegal drugs.

The word ‘Tokhang’ gained notoriety in the past five years as it was equated to human rights abuses and the bloody campaign against illegal drugs which left thousands of people dead, including children who were killed in a crossfire and other people who were believed to have been summarily executed which also include the case of Kian delos Santos.

Eleazar said that the PNP has been very supportive of the campaign against communist insurgency, what with the recent attacks of communist rebels that killed innocent civilians.

Aside from armed confrontation, the PNP is focusing on non-military solutions in running after the CPP-NPA that include encouraging them to surrender.

“In fighting communist insurgency in the country, we in the PNP believe that we have to present better ideas that focus on winning back the trust and confidence of those who fell prey to this failed ideology,” said Eleazar.

“And we have been doing so through our aggressive support on information dissemination, community mobilization through police-community relations, and barangay development program,” he added.