Warning raised

17,000 ‘illegal drug returnees’ failed to enroll in rehab: PNP

The Police Regional Office (PRO) XI has warned about 17,000 illegal drug returnees

who have not enrolled in the rehabilitation program to surface or their names will continue to be included in the list of those who authorities will run after with the re-launching of the Oplan Toktok Hangyo (TokHang).

The number was from about 45,000 who surrendered to the authorities when the Philippine National Police first launched the campaign immediately after President Rodrigo R. Duterte assumed office in 2016.

SPO4 Maria Rosario Suarez of the PRO XI Police Community Relation Section, said during the

AFP-PNP press conference held at Royal Mandaya Hotel yesterday that the data was from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Suarez said those 17,000 individuals should immediately show up and be listed in the new campaign so that they can become beneficiaries of the community-based rehabilitation program.

“There were many who surrendered but there were those who did not enroll in the reformation program,” she said, adding that those who would enroll in the program can avail of skills trainings of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the alternative learning system of the Department of Education.

She urged the public to help the agencies in the campaign, adding an intensified information campaign is necessary to ensure the success of the program.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered the police to stop the campaign after reports that some law enforcers committed grieve mistakes in implementing it. However, last year, the President ordered the police to resume its role in the campaign.

Suarez said the PRO XI has learned its lesson that it has crafted a comprehensive guideline that ensures human rights are protected and that steps are undertaken to make the campaign more effective.

On Saturday, the police office will hold the “Lipunin At Kalampagin Ang Droga (Lakad) Tokhang,” a walk for cause activity at the Rizal Park as part of the campaign.

She said there police hierarchy also saw the need for it repackage the image of the law enforcers and that part of this step is the holding of a two-day training inside the regional headquarters for those personnel who will undertake the campaign. The training will become a refresher for them on how human rights violations are committed and that what procedures are followed during the conduct of the campaign, including the steps in arresting suspects.

The campaign allows the law enforcers to visit the homes of individuals suspected to be illegal drugs whose identities were included in the watchlist as they are told to stop their illegal activities and avail of government rehabilitation programs.

Earlier, Police Deputy Director Camilo Pancratius Cascolan said the agency is still finalizing the guidelines for the campaign.