“Tokhang,” following its definition, should be non-aggressive but pro-active anti-drug campaign, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said in a statement.
Tokhang is a Cebuano/Bisaya combined words: “toktok,” which means “to knock” and “hangyo” meaning “to request.”
“The name itself already reveals the basic concept of “Tokhang” as the implementation of a non-aggressive but pro-active rule on the part of the police in nipping possible drug-related cases,” IBP President Rosario T. Setias-Reyes said adding that “Oplan Tokhang” is not illegal.
However, she said it could become a “fascistic nightmare of police abuse and human rights violations that will only foster fear and hatred against our police officers instead of the respect and support that they should earn and receive.”
The IBP, a mandatory organization of over 60,000 lawyers, maintained its stand against extra judicial killings and calls for the respect of due process.
The IBP mentioned several dos and don’ts that the Philippine National Police (PNP) must follow.
First, the police officers must be in full uniform when conducting subject visitation and that it is advisable the visitation must be done in coordination with the local barangay officials to ensure the safety and peace of mind of the subject as well it must be conducted during the daytime to minimize the danger of miscommunication, misunderstanding or misapprehension between the subject and the police officer.
Second, the group said, the police officers must approach in a courteous and non-aggressive manner
to emphasize that the subject of the visitation is to talk to the subject and not to arrest or subject him or her to any coercive action and if the subject refuses to talk, he or she cannot be compelled to do so nor can the police enter the premises of the subject’s home without any search warrant or probable cause to justify a warrantless entry.
“No aggressive or coercive actions or statements should be taken or made against the subject at the time of the visitation,’ the IBP said.
Likewise, the group said if the subject wishes to surrender as a drug dependent or drug pusher, he or she shall be referred to the nearest police station for further interview and the subject must be assisted by independent counsel, preferably of his or her own choice.
“It must be remembered that the right to counsel, even of a person who wishes to voluntarily surrender, cannot be waived, except in writing and in the presence of counsel,” reminded the IBP.
The group stressed that any “statement, undertaking, form or any other document containing any admission of extra-judicial confession of any particular criminal activity to be executed by subject who has expressed a desire to voluntarily surrender must be executed with the assistance of counsel and only after the subject shall have been fully apprised of his or her rights as a person under custodial investigation.”
Lastly, the IBP said the safety and security of the subject and his rights under the law must be protected and respected in full.
The PNP recently relaunched its “Oplan Tokhang” after a month-long hiatus.
WATCH VIDEO BELOW: