The TokHang effect

Text and photos by Dax Simbol

Residents come out to watch barangay officials and police authorities conduct Oplan TokHang in a farflung barangay in Tarlac City. Photo by: Dax Simbol.

Residents come out to watch barangay officials and police authorities conduct Oplan TokHang in a far-flung barangay in Tarlac City. Photo by: Dax Simbol.

Sonny (not his real name) is sweating bullets. The water in the glass he’s holding is half empty. No, he didn’t drink it; he lost half of the water with his hands still shaking.

Oplan Tokhang which means toktok-hangyo or knock and plead is the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) anti-illegal drug initiative aimed at demand and supply reduction at the barangay level.

Sonny is both on the the barangay‘s and Tarlac City’s PNP watchlists. He was aware of that. That morning when he was visited by a bunch of police officers and barangay tanods, he tried to elude them by climbing up their house’s roof.

A drug suspect tries to evade authorities by climbing up their house's roof, fearing apprehension. He was later assured that authorities were only there to talk to him as part of Oplan TokHang. Photo by: Dax Simbol.

A drug suspect tries to evade authorities by climbing up their house’s roof, fearing apprehension. He was later assured that authorities were only there to talk to him as part of Oplan TokHang. Photo by: Dax Simbol.

A barangay councilman shouted, “We are not here to arrest you, Sonny.”

“We are here to talk,” assured the chief of police.

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