Priest’s presence ‘unnecessary’ in anti-drug ops

Priest’s presence ‘unnecessary’ in anti-drug ops

A police crime investigator gathers evidence next from a drug suspect, who was killed by authorities during a buy bust operation in Caloocan City, Sept. 30, 2016. MARIA TAN

TACLOBAN City – The relaunch of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Oplan Double Barrel is a welcome development, according to local church spokesman, but tagging along a priest is unnecessary.

Fr. Chris Arthur Militante, spokesman of the Archdiocese of Palo, expressed this view in an interview on a morning program over Tatak RMN radio station.

The priest said as long as police operatives will treat persons on the illegal drugs watchlist well, there is no more need to require the presence of local church representatives.

Church-LGU initiatives

“The Church anyway is in partnership with the local governments units within the Archdiocese of Palo in helping those who have surrendered and wanted to reform their lives,” he informed.

The participation of priests or local church leaders, he stressed, however, is not mandatory.

“We do not prevent priests from joining in the Oplan Tokhang if they want to,” clarified Militante.

Local parishes in the archdiocese are currently collaborating with LGUs and other concerned groups and government agencies for the rehabilitation of drug surrenderees, who are considered low-risk drug dependents.

At present, 37 drug surrenderees are graduating from a 8-week transformation program conducted by an LGU in collaboration with the Church. A ceremony was held to mark the event at the hilltop Archbishop’s Residence in Brgy. Arado, Palo, Leyte.

“The Church, upholding the dignity of every human, fully believes in the capability of each drug dependents to reform and be good citizens again,” said Militante.

Invited witnesses

He expressed hope that in this second version of Oplan Tokhang, due process will be observed amid the government’s bid to stop the spread of illegal drugs.

As of this writing, the Archdiocese of Palo has not yet received any communication from the police on the archdiocese’ active involvement in Oplan Double Barrel.

PNP Chief Ronaldo “Bato” Dela Rosa recently disclosed that in Oplan Double Barrel, the local chief of police will be the one to lead every anti-illegal drug operation. In the said operation, barangay officials and church leaders will be invited to join and witness.

President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly required the presence of barangay officials and church representatives to allay fears of extra-judicial killings happening during police operations. CBCPNews