July 24, 2024

Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar has assured respect for human rights is paramount over the planned adoption of a “tokhang”-style of operations on supposed supporters of the underground movement in the Cordillera.
Eleazar was referring to the controversial resolution of the Cordillera Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Council (Rlecc) adopting the tokhang-style in the government’s war on drugs in the campaign against insurgency.
The Rlecc resolution, which was adopted by the Regional Peace and Order Council, enjoins members of law enforcement agencies and representatives of local government units, religious sector, and non-government organizations in the Cordillera to conduct the Dumanun Makitungtong strategy to known members of communist front organizations.
In a statement posted on the PNP website, Eleazar said there is a need to “present better ideas” that focus on winning back the trust and confidence of communist rebels to the government.  
“On the part of the PNP, we will provide assistance in a way that will strike a balance between our collective goal of defeating the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and our commitment to respect and uphold the basic human rights of every Filipino,” Eleazar said.
He said the PNP has achieved this through aggressive support on information dissemination, community mobilization through police community relations, and barangay development program.
In an earlier statement sent to the media on Aug. 24, Eleazar acknowledged there is still a need to improve their approach in dealing with the rebels.
“While I understand the genuine intention of the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council, I believe there are some gray areas in this campaign that may compromise the commitment of your PNP to respecting and upholding the human rights of every Filipino citizen,” he said.
Eleazar has already instructed Police Regional Office-Cordillera Director, B/Gen. Ronald Oliver Lee, “to explore other ways in dealing with communist insurgency in the region.”
The Youth Act Now Against Tyranny Baguio-Benguet chapter said while it welcomes Eleazar’s statement, which is a direct admission of the threat tokhang poses, it urged the PNP and members of the RLECC to “walk the talk.”
The group said prior to the RLECC resolution, Oplan Tokhang against activists has been operating for the past months, which harasses and intimidates these civilians aside from the smear campaigns and red- tagging they receive on social media.
The group is one of the 25 organizations in the region that were tagged as CPP-NPA supporters and was lobbied by PRO-Cor to be declared as persona-non-grata. 
Under Philippine laws, being a leftist or a communist is not considered a crime.
Progressive group Tongtongan Ti Umili has condemned the RLECC resolution, which it claimed is inaccurate in equating “left ideals and principles to being communist fronts.”
“If the State is serious in solving the insurgency problem, it should work and pursue the resumption of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. It will not solve the insurgency problem by further restricting democratic space and implementing more anti-people policies over another,” the group said in a statement. – Ofelia C. Empian