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Baguio court tosses petition vs ‘tokhang’ on alleged Cordilleran leftists

Republika

A local court in Baguio City rejected the petition of United Church of Christ leader, Bishop Emeritus Reuel Norman Marigza, for an injunction on a proposed ‘tokhang’ strategy against Left-leaning residents, journalists and government employees in the Cordilleras.


Last week on Wednesday, Judge Michael Francisco of the Baguio Regional Trial Court Branch 6 said that he was compelled to deny Marigza’s petition as well as a 20-day restraining order, since the effect was not yet in effect.


The proposal, Resolution No. 4 of the Cordillera Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC), would deploy teams to visit homes of perceived left-leaning persons to convince them to discontinue their alleged support for the New People’s Army, the Communist Party of the Philippines, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and alleged front organizations.


Francisco cited Cordillera police counsel, Police Lt. Col. Solver Gonting’s assertion that the resolution had not yet been enforced since it required the authorization of the Regional Peace and Order council and local governments.


The court further said that Marigza’s petition was “premature” and that the threats he feared were “largely uncertain and contingent upon the adoption of the [resolution].” Francisco also said that the police assured that they would not “preemptively enforce ‘Oplan Tokhang’ as contemplated under [Resolution No. 4].”


Marigza, in his petition, said that this tactic “violates the constitutional guarantee of an individual’s right to privacy and security at his home”, a view that was shared by lawyers from academe and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).


“Ideology is not a crime,” IBP Baguio vice president Hilario Belmes said, recalling points brought up by human rights lawyer Jose Molintas as well as University of the Cordilleras law professors Lauro Gacayan and Carlo Teodoro, whom the city council had asked to review the resolution.


Molintas pointed out that this resolution is in violation of a policy of the Philippine National Police that its members must remain apolitical.


“The police [are] supposed to serve everybody regardless of their ideological beliefs or affiliation whether they are political Left, the centrists or the political Right,” he said. “Left-leaning Filipinos pay taxes and also pay their salaries.”


The scheme is patterned after ‘Oplan Tokhang’, which is at the core of the Duterte administration’s bloody war against drugs, which has claimed thousands of lives.


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