The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), an animal rights group, condemned the officials of a barangay (village) in Novaliches, Quezon City yesterday for their project Oplan “Dog” Hang.
The name was inspired by the word tokhang which literally means “knock and plead,” and refers to the government’s controversial anti-drug operations.
Based on the poster shared by PAWS on their Facebook account, the project was launched in Barangay Capri by captain Christian Cando, councilors Agnes Cando, and Arnie Cando.
Tokhang carries a negative connotation as the government’s drug war has claimed thousands of lives.
According to the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) estimates from January, more than 4,000 people have died in anti-drug police operations since it started in 2016. However, the Human Rights Watch reported that the number is closer to 12,000.
In its statement, PAWS said: “The use of the term ‘dog’-hang whether as an allusion to ‘tokhang’ (used colloquially to mean ‘to summarily kill someone’) or as a way to encourage violent acts towards animals (ie. ‘hang’) as a means of animal control is wrong.”
PAWS explained further: “Using ‘tokhang’ to refer to the killing or rounding up of animals who have not committed any crime is unfair and ignorant.”
The organization also denied that Barangay Capri officials are coordinating with them in getting the animals adopted from the Quezon City pound.
It said: “This is NOT TRUE. Animal welfare shelters are not repositories of stray animals. PAWS focuses on the prevention of pet homelessness through education, lobbying and spay-neuter.”
PAWS claims that animals in pounds are usually euthanized.
Their post included a poster that was used by the barangay (village) which says “Don’t fight back, surrender your pets!”
The poster used the word “nanlaban,” (fought back) which is the common excuse the PNP gives to explain why they killed a drug suspect.
PAWS’ post has been shared more than 8,400 times.
In a statement sent to Coconuts Manila, Agnes Cado, one of the government officials who appeared in Oplan “Dog” Hang’s poster, said the project was meant for irresponsible pet owners.
The statement also said that if the pets were surrendered to the Quezon City pound, they could be adopted by other families. The statement also defended the allusion of the project’s name to the word “tokhang.”
It reads in Filipino: “The word ‘tokhang‘ just happened to have a negative perception because of some police who bungled some operations against those who were involved in illegal drugs. If you think about it, its objective was to knock on people’s doors and requesting them to surrender.”
The tone-deaf statement conveniently ignores that thousands of people have already been killed during the government’s anti-drug operations. It’s not as peaceful as merely knocking on doors and asking suspected drug addicts or suppliers to surrender.
Agnes’ statement adds that there have been dogs who were brought to the pound who have been adopted. While the name of the project sounds morbid, she insisted that no pets have been killed during Oplan “Dog” Hang.
The same statement also appeared on Christian Cando’s Facebook page.
In an interview with GMA News, Christian admitted that he was the one who thought of the project’s name.
Seriously, not a bright idea, man.
He also said that the campaign has been going on for some time and will continue to do so despite the uproar. However, the project’s posters will be taken down.
He said: “What we are condemning are irresponsible owners and not their animals.”
Coconuts Manila asked Christian for an interview but he has yet to reply.