CDO village chief refuses to conduct ‘Tokhang,’ says it’s human rights violation

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 7 July) – At night, Barangay 23 here comes to life with motorcycles going in and out its streets and alleyways in a never ending frenzy to get stash of illegal drugs.

The Barangay 23 Anti-Drug Council listed at least 15 names of shabu dealers plying their trade openly in their village.

“They (shabu dealers) conduct their business openly in full view of other residents. That is how brazen they have became,” Frias told MindaNews.

During a drug bust operations, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency supported by Barangay 23 officials seized P1.5 million worth of shabu last Dec. 3, 2015.

So it came as no surprise that the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office asked Barangay 23 officials of the list of suspected drug dealers last week.

Frias, a former journalist who still writes occasional sports stories for news publications, said he and their barangay council complied but told police officials they should not use the list to stage “Oplan Tokhang” (toktok hangyo) in their village.

“I am very firm on this. No tokhang in our barangay. It is a clear human rights violation,” Frias said.

Frias said inviting or identifying the suspects without evidence or criminal case filed before the courts is a gross violation of their rights.

Furthermore, Frias said the children of these alleged suspects will be traumatized learning that their parents are under suspicion for selling illegal drugs.

“What if all our information are not true? The damage will be irreparable. The children will bear the brunt of shame,” he said.

Frias said he asked the police to file the appropriate criminal charges against the suspects rather than subject them to a shame campaign.

He also admonished the police to secure proper search warrants from the courts if they want to raid a house in the village.

“I am the first one to say let us arrest and deal harshly with the drug dealers but for God’s sake, let us do it properly and according to the law. It should be done by the book,” Frias said.

He said he does not mind if he will be sharply criticized for his actions.

Frias said the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has yet to issue an order requiring barangay officials to conduct “Tokhang” in their villages.