‘GONE WITH THE WIND’: Half of drug personalities in Tokhang list go ‘missing’

By: Jennifer P. Rendon

MORE than half of almost 3,000 drug personalities in Western Visayas could no longer be located.

Based on the latest validation of the Regional Oversight Committee on Illegal Drugs and Illegal Gambling (ROCIDG), authorities listed 2,911 suspected drug dealers in the region from Dec. 5, 2017 to July 29, 2019.

The Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) data on Oplan Tokhang showed that more than half of these suspects are in Negros Occidental with 1,537.

Bacolod City accounted for 794; Iloilo City – 211; Capiz – 122; Iloilo province – 111; Antique 63; Aklan – 58; and Guimaras – 15.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Joem Malong, PRO-6 spokesperson, said that more than 50 percent of the 2,911 suspects are lumped in the “suspense file” because they could no longer be located.

As such, “they were not subjected to Oplan Tokhang.”

Under the Oplan Tokhang Reloaded, an identified drug personality could only be visited by police at his or her known address.

Oplan Tokhang is the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the PNP. Coined from the words toktok (knock) and hangyo (ask), the program deployed police officers who literally knocked on the doors of suspected drug dealers and asked them to surrender.

“We think that most of them have either relocated or left the area where they used to operate or have not been monitored to engage in the illegal drug trade,” Malong said.

Almost a third of the total, or 1,007 personalities, surrendered while 60 individuals chose not to yield.

On the other hand, 288 persons are due for Tokhang operation.

But based on the latest validation, there are 311 personalities who are still up for Tokhang and police operations.

“That 311 could change because there are personalities who are already neutralized or there have been newly-identified individuals,” Malong said.

On July 29, Police Brigadier General Rene Pamuspusan, Western Visayas police chief, said PRO-6 has 374 watch listed drug personalities based on the PNP Directorate for Intelligence’s records.

But Pamuspusan pointed out that the number could change because of the ongoing validation and daily anti-illegal drugs operations.

In fact, different police units in Western Visayas have conducted 159 police operations from July 1 – 28, 2019 that led to the arrest of 225 persons.

Meanwhile, the fact that majority of the drug personalities are in Negros Occidental and Bacolod City was validated by accomplishment reports indicating numerous arrests in these areas.

While confiscated illegal drugs in Panay Island were valued in thousands of pesos, Bacolod City and Negros Occidental have confiscated millions of pesos worth of illegal drugs.

Malong also believed that there are several drug groups and gangs based in Negros Occidental.