Dagupan residents welcome 'Tokhang' return

BARANGAY residents in Dagupan City welcomed the resumption of Oplan Tokhang last January 30, saying unlike in the past, they were now at ease with the policemen and their companions knocking on the doors of target houses.

Superintendent Jandale Sulit, officer-in-charge of the Dagupan police, said the people no longer feel nervous over the resumption of Oplan Tokhang since they saw members of the media and religious sector, as well as barangay officials along with policemen conducting the operations.

On top of this, Tokhang is only held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Sulit said two groups of "Tokhangers" were formed in Dagupan, each carrying a list of drug personalities provided by the Pangasinan police.

The names of those who have not yet surrendered in previous operations or have not completed their rehabilitation, as well as newly identified drug personalities are included in the list.

He said Oplan Tokhang would continue until all the drug personalities in the list were accounted for.

Those in the list must voluntarily surrender and undergo rehabilitation based on the degree of their affectation. If they refuse to do so and continue with their illegal activities, they could be subjected to drug bust and search warrant operations, Sulit added.

He refuted a common misconception that "tokhangers" would conduct search operations, pointing out they would only knock on the doors of suspected drug personalities in the list and appeal to them to voluntarily surrender.

Sulit said if the drug personality would later be found to be in moderate to extreme degrees of drug affectation after testing, they would be recommended to undergo rehabilitation.

He said drug users in Dagupan were fortunate because the city was bankrolling their rehabilitation to help them return to their normal life and become productive citizens anew.

Sulit also said each Tokhang team was provided with a kit, which they needed to fill out in profiling a surrendered drug personality.

At the same time, Sulit said Dagupan City was now drug-cleared but would still have to pass validation by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to be declared as drug-free.

Asked if the city still has drug pushers, Sulit said a few were being arrested but most of them were from other places.

He cited the case of Wilberto Castro of Paitan, San Carlos City, who was arrested in Malta Village Subdivision in Dagupan City, where he had been in hiding for three months.

Castro, who was also tagged as suspect in the slaying of a policeman in San Carlos City, was arrested in an apartment he was renting.

Sulit said that overall, Dagupan City was peaceful but the police continued to conduct checkpoint operations and to increase their visibility. (PNA)