STATEMENT | From ‘Tokhang’ to ‘Tok-bang’

Mar. 10, 2017

Statement of the National Union of People’s Lawyers on the relaunched Oplan Double Barrel

There’s been no restraint or second thoughts at all about Duterte’s war on drugs, relaunched this week as “Oplan Double Barrel, Reloaded”. Intensely marked by illegal practices and human rights violations, the campaign has literally become “tok-bang” from “tokhang”.

Experts and experience, here and abroad, have all pointed to a balanced approach of medical, psycho-social, community and police engagement to defeat the scourge of illegal drugs.

Despite so, Duterte has insisted on a brutal method combining excessive force, extrajudicial killings, and disregard of law or reason.

The bloody war has irrationally claimed 7,000 dead, mostly poor and underprivileged, and chaotically terrorized the general public. Though the police claim the revamped campaign will exclude police “scalawags” and involve – to much horror and with its laden history– the military, the subsisting policy of mercenary viciousness, and overkill will ensure more deaths, graver rights violations, and deeper fear. Duterte’s opus Oplan won’t likely the problem with drugs in the near future.

There is no choice for the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers from the National Capital Region but to go lock, stock, and barrel in against rampant abuses and illegalities.

We have consistently advised against 1) mandatory drug tests in certain instances as invalid exercise of police power, 2) “tokhang” searches that are constitutionally unreasonable, 3) discriminatory and arbitrary tagging of surrenderees as threat to security, 4) issuance of “classified” drug personalities list, and 4) dubious police “zoning” operations and raids, among others.

As the victims, survivors, and their families gather their wits and courage, we are ready to provide legal services and representation in tandem with support groups that can give security, complementary, and holistic services.

For the deaths that have solved nothing, we will try to exact accountability and ultimately, give meaning.

We will continually  support the reclaiming of dignity, and the rehabilitation of lives towards transformation into more productive forces of society.

Rise up for life, rise up for rights!

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