Let’s have ‘tokhang’ back

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


LAST week, I posted a message on Facebook that I didn’t realize was a sentiment shared by thousands who either support the war on drugs or are simply concerned about the ongoing campaign. The post was shared more than 1Ik times.

Permit me to share that post here as well.


“TO SAVE MORE LIVES, IBALIK ANG TOKHANG! Over the past months, marami na ang mga nababalitang namatay na drug pushers dahil nanlaban. Wala na rin ang mga nagsu-surrender at malakas na ang mga loob na ituloy ang pagbenta dahil sa paniniwala na nakakalusot na sila. May mga nag-surrender nuon na bumabalik na sa droga sa paniniwala din na lusot na sila.

Kung may tokhang, nalalaman ng suspects na binabantayan pa rin sila. At nakakausap pa silang mag-surrender at magpa-rehab, at yong mga nag-surrender ay masabihan na huwag nang ituloy ang ginagawa nila dahil makukulong na sila.

Sa tokhang, maraming hindi na maglakakas loob na magbenta at gumamit ng droga at lumayo sa kapahamakan – siguradong kulong o kamatayan pag nanlaban.”

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ACTIVE DRUG TRADING IN THE CITY. Meanwhile, here in Dagupan City, an anonymous tipster who regularly updates me about active illegal trading in his/her area (Barangay Pantal) again sent me an update on Friday that ended with: “Wala pa rin pulis kahit tanod walang umiikot dito kaya libre sila anumang oras sir, fyi.”  

 I sent the tipster’s full text to city police chief Jandale Sulit, PDEA’S Dexter Asayco and yes, Mayor Belen.

If one were to believe the detailed activities of current illegal trading that this tipster sends to me, I’m not surprised why the tipster is beginning to be convinced that the trading in his/her community is being protected.  I share the tipster’s concern because ever since he/she has been updating me since September, no PDEA-police raid was ever done to even just interrupt the drug dealing in the area. (The tipster even named names and places, all of which I have relayed to PDEA and PNP).

“Paano nangyari na di alam ng pdea aat pnp lahat yan? Kahit si barangay kap at tanod wala ginagawa”   Hmmm. Why indeed?

I believe it’s time for Mayor Belen to don her armor and start leading the City Anti-Drug Advisory Council actively because the hands of PNP and PDEA appear to be securely tied by a protector. Could that be possible?

My unsolicited advice to her and her administration, for whatever it’s worth is:  Act fast before a nasty rumor about her administration coddling drug syndicates in the city reaches the ear of PDU30.  Lest she forgets her political enemies are simply waiting for her to make one dumb mistake on anything since the “tabon” issue is quickly fizzling out. And the war on drugs is on top of the president’s mind.  

Need I add, the buck stops with her?

Meanwhile, only two were arrested in the province over the week. One was in a buy-bust and the other in a checkpoint. Is it possible that the police in Pangasinan only managed to trap two? Hmmm. Or does PD Wilson Lopez think the war on drugs should no longer be a priority? Tsk-tsk. PDU30 doesn’t think so. 

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OPPOSITION’S ANTI-CHINA RHETORIC. All the anti-China sentiments being whipped up by the political opposition through mainstream and social media are, fortunately, not gaining some traction here and elsewhere in the country except among themselves!

While China’s activities, as a major global player, was never an issue until the it took over the Panatag Shoal that it deemed was its territory historically, I can sense that Pinoys are not generally and remotely threatened by the prospect of military or economic takeover by China as bruited about by the political opposition who insist the government did a sell-out, forgetting that the territorial dispute was triggered by their administration.

Today, it’s already a fact that the country’s biggest banks are controlled by Pinoy businessmen with Chinese or Spanish ancestry. Our telecom providers have inks with China’s telecoms, Indonesia owns PLDT (through MVPangilinan), biggest rice traders have Chinese ancestry… so you ask, what is new about China’s interests that will have negative impact on us?

Unless and until China occupies the country militarily which cannot happen unless PH declares war, China’s flag will not fly on our soil. Given our government’s friendly relations in spite of territorial disputes, a clear benefit to us is there will be increased trade activities between our two countries, particularly in tourism and technology.

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CLEAN & SAFE ENVIRONMENT. Dagupan City is ripe for a private organization that will act as an environmental catalyst because rapid urbanization is rapidly taking place.

While I don’t doubt that Mayor Belen Fernandez is one advocate for clean environment, the residents need to work with a private group that can collaborate with the city government on matters of clean air, clean environment, safe workplace, protection of trees, water and beaches.

Let me explain. While the ‘tabon’ issue is clearly NOT the major and only factor that caused recent severe flooding in the city, what I see contributed (not caused) largely to the flooding were the unchecked violations of ordinances that protect our waterways and sewage system. The decades of neglect by past administrations have already made it impossible to monitor the areas of breakdown.

A private group that has unimpeded access to information from residents can greatly boost efforts to keep a clean and safe environment in the city while the city government is focused on development.

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MEN & WOMEN OF INTEGRITY. I was saddened by the resignation of then Sec. Jess Dureza, a colleague in the journalism practice, from his post as head of the Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. I have reason to believe it was he who convinced PDU30 to accept his resignation if only to show that there is still a culture of delicadeza in this administration.  (Jess and I bonded when he was starting as a reporter in Davao City, and I in Dagupan in the early 70s).

It is public servants like him and Executive Sec. Bingbong Medialdea, and cabinet secretaries Sonny Dominguez, Pincoy Duque, Teddyboy Locsin, Jun Esperon, Martin Andanar, Liling Briones, Ben Diokno and Sal Panelo that keep me a believer in this government today.

They are all men (and woman) of integrity, that I personally know for a fact!

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PROTECT CANDIDATES. While only the killing of former Bayambang Councilor Levin Uy appears to be the only sensational election-related violence in the province so far, we cannot discount the possibility that it will not be the last.

The provincial (and regional) PNP can only do so much to prevent such political violence from taking place because but there’ve just been too many riding-in-tandem hitmen in the region still unaccounted for.

With the gun ban in place during the campaign, any candidate, particularly those without private security entourage, are like sitting ducks. And politicians who hate losing will surely find it more logistically sound to engage services of hitmen to end that fear.

It is in this light that I support moves to allow vulnerable candidates to apply for uniformed security detail from PNP.

The presence of uniformed detail may not completely prevent an assassination but their presence could make it difficult for anyone to make the kill.

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