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Philippine police re-launch drug war

Manila (UCAN): Church leaders in the Philippines warned of more killings after the national police announced the re-launching the government’s controversial anti-narcotics war.
Human rights groups say that the deadly drug war of the president, Rodrigo Duterte, has claimed the lives of at least 13,000 people since it began in 2016.
Philippine National Police director general, Ronald de la Rosa, promised a bloodless operation, adding that police would observe the true spirit of tokhang, the door-to-door campaign to convince drug users to surrender for rehabilitation.
The word tokhang a combines of the Visayan words toktok, meaning knock, and hangyo, meaning appeal. 
“The spirit of Tokhang, if implemented properly, is bloodless,” de la Rosa insisted, adding, “That’s why it’s called knock and plead.” 
However, Bishop Virgilio David of Kalookan, doubted whether the authorities could shed the stigma of the killings that came with the campaign last year.
“They have barely washed the blood from the unresolved killings,” the bishop said.
In its own accomplishment report, released last December, the government listed 3,967 drug personalities killed during the anti-drug operations while 16,355 homicide cases were reported to be under investigation.
“How many ‘deaths under investigation’ perpetuated by masked vigilantes have been resolved? Why have the killers never been apprehended, pursued, or caught?” Bishop David asked.
He said that the killings did not stop even after the campaign was supended in October, noting that at least 19 people were killed between October 13 and January 13 near his residence in Caloocan, where most drug-related killings in the national capital have been reported.
“What more do we expect (with the re-launch of the campaign)? Your guess is as good as mine,” the bishop said.
Nardy Sabino, secretary-general of the Promotion of Church People’s Response, said the resumption of the campaign would only “strengthen the culture of impunity” in the country.
“The police must focus on the supply chain. They should arrest big drug dealers and not kill the poor who are just victims of this huge industry,” Sabino said.

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