Dagupan residents welcome ‘Tokhang’ return

DAGUPAN CITY — The resumption of Oplan Tokhang in Dagupan City last Tuesday was welcomed by barangay residents who said that unlike in the past, they were now at ease with the policemen and their companions knocking on the doors of target houses.

This was disclosed by Supt. Jandale Sulit, officer-in-charge of the Dagupan Police, in an interview with newsmen Wednesday before appearing in a committee hearing of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) as one of the resource persons.

He said the people no longer feel nervous over the resumption of “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 till 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 refused to do so and continued with their illegal activities, they could be subjected to buy-bust and search warrant operations, Sulit added.

He refuted a common misconception that “tokhangers” would conduct search operations, pointing out that 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 that 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 a 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-northboundasia.com