Philippines police resume anti-drug raids

Manila, Jan 29 : The Philippines police, after a 120-days hiatus, resumed its controversial anti-drug raids on Monday.

Called the "tokhang" operation -- the raids saw the killing of nearly 4,000 alleged traffickers since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed power more than 18 months ago and declared a war on drugs.

The police on Monday carried out anti-drug raids across the country, but under stricter guidelines in order to prevent unnecessary spilling of blood, said National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa to the media.

Under the new norms, the officers can only conduct "tokhang" activities during the day.

It would also occasionally involve video cameras, or activists and representatives of the Catholic Church, Efe news reported.

"Tokhang" means knock on the door and beg in the Visayan dialect of Cebuano.

It is now the name given to the police operations in Duterte's anti-drug campaign.

Moreover, if the suspect resists arrest, the police would have to hand over the case to a special agency, under the new norms.

This could be in response to criticism of the apparent ease with which officers earlier pulled the trigger at the slightest sign of resistance.

The police chief stressed that the rule of law will prevail in the new phase of the anti-drug war, but did not rule out the police killing some alleged trafficker in extreme cases.

The police -- the executive arm of the anti-drug war -- was removed from this campaign from October 12 to December 5, 2017, due to several scandals, among them the death of presumably innocent minors.

Until then, the toll had reached 4,000, although the total number of killings in the anti-drug war was estimated to be over 7,000 -- taking into account deaths by individuals and neighbourhood vigilante groups encouraged by the environment of impunity.

On December 5, 2017, the police forces were brought back into the campaign, and have conducted arrests and shootings in which suspects have died.

However, the controversial raids had not resumed until now.



Source: IANS