By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) serenaded commuters with love songs, roses and “Oplan Tokhang” (knock and plead) information materials at the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Cubao Station in Quezon City Wednesday, Valentine’s Day, to better inform them of the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.
Senior Superintendent Bartolome Bustamante, deputy director of PNP-Police Community Relations Group (PCRG), said the event dubbed as “Katok ng Pagbabago Mula sa Puso” aimed to erase the stigma about “Tokhang” and to bring the cops closer to the public.
“The activity is one of the innovation programs of the PNP to reach out to a wider audience and show them the soft side of our policemen,” Bustamante told reporters.
“We want to clarify that ‘Tokhang’ is not a bad word. We all know that for over many months, it has been given a bad name but the true meaning of Tokhang is to encourage (drug personalities) to do away with drugs,” he added.
The PNP’s official mascot, PO1 Bato, whose name was obtained from the nickname of PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, and Quezon City Police District (QCPD)’s mascot, PO1 Hinirang handed out roses to commuters and readily posed for photo opportunities.
Meanwhile, Bustamante denied that the event was a way to deviate the attention of the public to the more pressing issues the PNP is facing, particularly the mounting deaths in its Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded operations.
“No, we are not doing this to make us look good. Every year, we’ve been doing this and we have made some innovations, like the use of the mascots but the overall aim is to bridge the gap between the people and the PNP,” he said.
The cops also handed out to the commuters anti-criminality materials and tips on what to do during natural disasters.
One of the commuters, Annabelle Lucero, 30, said she was elated with the PNP’s initiatives to inform her about the ‘Tokhang’ operations and the roses she got from the cops.
The program also highlighted performances of the QCPD band and dance group.
The PNP said over 1,500 drug personalities have already surrendered to police under Oplan Tokhang since its relaunch on January 29, 2018.
Meanwhile, over 50 drug suspects have died and 6,200 have surrendered under the Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded since it was relaunched on December 5, 2017.