TACLOBAN CITY-While they support the campaign, they will make sure that the rights of the alleged drug users and pushers who reportedly surrender voluntarily are not violated. In fact, they are set to conduct some inquiries on certain cases involving anti-drug campaign being waged by police authorities in the region, lawyer Paquito Nacino, regional director of the Commission on Human Rights(CHR), said. “We are throwing our full support on this campaign of our government which is to end the proliferation of the illegal drugs,” Nacino said. “However, we will also make sure that the human rights of these individuals who are surrendering are not violated,” he added. Nacino said that police authorities, who are carrying out their “Operation Tokhang,” could not just barge to the houses of the alleged drug users or pushers if they are not in possession of a court order or warrant.
“The mere fact that they knock on the houses is an indication that they have to seek first the permission of the owner regardless if he is claimed to be in the illegal drug trade,” Nacino said. “Now, if the owner of the house refuses to allow them to enter, they cannot force themselves in. Otherwise, they will be committing violation against the owner,” the CHR regional director said. He said that the right to domicile is being upheld and respected by the Constitution. Thus, even police authorities are expected to also observe the constitutional right of the owner.
An alleged drug suspect in one of the barangays of Tacloban came to their office to ask support, Nacino said. The owner, who was not identified by Nacino, reportedly decline for the police men to enter at his house. However, the police authorities still went inside despite the resistance of the owner. The Operation Tokhang, taken from the Visayan words “knock and appeal” is the code name used by the authorities in encouraging alleged drug users and peddlers to voluntarily surrender to them.
Since the campaign started in July 1, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte formally assumed the presidency, there were already over 6,000 drug personalities in the region who reportedly voluntarily surrendered before the authorities. However, there were instances of resistance like what happened in Sogod, Southern Leyte involving a former police officer who was said to be in the illegal drug trade. Killed was Emmanuel Solon who chose to engage police authorities in a gun battle. This particular incident will be investigated by the CHR, Nacino. He clarified that their inquiry is just part of their constitutional mandate. Meantime, Nacino said that those who surrender ed and were asked to sign an “affidavit of surrender” does not constitute to any human right violations.