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“Tokhang-type” drive vs Cordillera Reds springs back to life

BAGUIO CITY (August 23, 2021)—Several months after facing criticisms, a “tokhang-type” campaign against the local communist movement in the highland Cordillera is being pushed back to life.

The Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council (CRPOC ) passed a resolution this week adopting the “Dumanun Makitungtong” (Seek and Talk) strategy to alleged “known members of left-leaning organizations” seeking to help address the five-decade long armed communist movement.

The resolution Cordillera Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Council (CRLECC) Number 06, Series of 2021 entitled: A resolution enjoining the members of the law enforcement agencies together with the representatives of local government units (LGUs), religious sector, and NGOs to conduct “Dumanun Makitungtong” strategy to known members of Communist Front Organizations (CFOs) was adopted during the recently concluded 3rd quarter CRLECC meeting here.

The “Dumanun Makitungtong” strategy translates to the conduct of house visits to known members of the CFOs in order to persuade them to stop dealing with or supporting the CPP-NPA-NDF in the region, Araceli San Jose, OIC-Regional Director of Department of the Interior and Local Government, who heads Secretariat of Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council (CRPOC), explaining, ‘it is in support of the priority thrust of President Rodrigo Duterte in addressing the insurgency’.

The CRPOC urged the Provincial and Highly Urbanized City Peace and Order Councils to adopt the RLECC resolution and strategy, as well as to enjoi their component Local Peace and Order Councils to replicate the effort.

In late February this year, a move to legally block a “tokhang-type” government campaign to rid the region of the communist movement was struck down at a Baguio court after a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) petition was lodged citing fears of looming political repression.

Then Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. RWin Pagkalinawan, now retired, who co-chaired the CRLECC parried the fears of some sectors against the tact insisting “it was not a blood thirsty campaign, but the same strategy of visiting or actually knocking on homes of left-leaning personalities (including the media and government personnel) around the villages and making a plea to shun support for the CPP-NPA-NDF.”

The new Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. Ronald Lee, who himself came as chief of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG) that primarily implemented the controversial Tokhang strategy in the country’s anti-drug campaign has remained reclusive on the issue.

The new CRLECC resolution however did not include media personalities in its target for the “tokhang-type” strategy.

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