'Tokhang' named 2018 Word of the Year

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 26) — "Tokhang," which has become synonymous with the Duterte administration's deadly war against drugs, has been hailed as the word of the year for 2018.

The play on the words "toktok," or knock, and "hangyo," or plead was chosen by participants at the Sawikaan 2018 on Friday at the University of the Philippines - Diliman.  It was submitted by Mark Angeles, who introduced himself as a teacher.

In his presentation to defend his submission, Angeles showed how the word "tokhang" has been used in different contexts - from becoming a mascot, a meme and several food establishments - moving it away from its association with the government's campaign against drugs.

"Ginagamit ang salitang 'tokhang' na halos wala na itong bahid ng karahasan ng giyera kontra droga," Angeles said.

[TRANSLATION: The word "tokhang" is being used like it is not associated with the violence of the war against drugs.]

Oplan Tokhang is the flagship anti-drugs program of the Duterte administration which has been criticized by local and international human rights groups and suspended in January and October 2017, before going back in full blast in December 2017.

READ: War on drugs suspended, takes back seat in war against rogue cops

Government numbers place the death toll of the drug war at around 4,800, but opposition politicians and rights groups say the body count is much higher.

Despite continued criticism of his drug war and an ongoing preliminary examination by the International Criminal Court, President Rodrigo Duterte is not backing down. In his last State of the Nation Address, he vowed that the drug war would be as "relentless and chilling" as the day it began.

READ: At least three more communications vs. Duterte filed at ICC - CHR

But for Angeles, who ended his presentation with a protest song which ended with "Nanlaban ang bayan laban sa panunokhang ng pulis na inutos ng adik sa loob ng Malacañang," the people should not take the drug war sitting idly.

[TRANSLATION: The people fought back against the killings by police orchestrated by the addict in Malacañang.]

"Kapag tayo ay tinotokhang, o kapag ang aking karapatang pantao ay nilalabag, dapat tayo ay manlaban," Angeles said.

[TRANSLATION: When we are being killed or if our human rights are being violated, we must fight back.]

Fake news, Dengvaxia

The words "fake news" and "Dengvaxia" came in at second and third places, respectively.

The Duterte administration has been accused of peddling false information, especially online, but has repeatedly denied this charge.

Dengvaxia, meanwhile, is the controversial anti-dengue vaccine, which has been blamed for the deaths of several children due to complications due to dengue after its manufacturer, French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi-Pasteur, disclosed that it could cause "serious disease" among those not yet infected with dengue.

Attendees also picked "fake news," submitted by Danilo Arao, for best presentation, while online voters chose "foodie," entered in by Mykel Sarthou, as their favorite.

Other entries for word of the year include:

Dengvaxia, submitted by Ralph Flores and Art Santiago

DDS, submitted by Schedar Jocson

Dilawan, submitted by Jonathan Geronimo and John Robert Bautista

Federalismo, submitted by Xavier Alvaran

Quo warranto, submitted by Aileen Sicat

Resibo, submitted by Zarina Joy Santos Eliserio

TRAIN, submitted by Junilo Espiritu

Troll, submitted by Roy Rene Cagalingan

Sawikaan is a "comprehensive discussion to choose the sole word which dominated discourse of Philippine society in the past year," according to the UP Diliman website.

It said a word qualifies as an entry if it is coined or used as a new word, if it was recently adapted from an ethnic or foreign language, or is an old word that has gained new meaning or been revived from obsolescence.

It is held once every two years and is organized by Filipinas Institute of Translation, UP Diliman Information Office and the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino.

In 2016, Sawikaan chose "fotobam" as the word of the year, following the controversy surrounding Torre de Manila, derided by some for "photobombing" the Rizal Monument at Luneta Park in Manila.