MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa wishes human rights groups also look after the police and the military when their rights are curtailed.
Appearing on News5’s digital program “Isa Laban Sa Lahat” on Wednesday, Dela Rosa was asked by veteran journalist Ed Lingao about his views on the role of human rights and human rights groups in law enforcement.
“Universally established na ‘yung human rights talaga, doon lang ‘yan sa mga non-state actors. ‘Yung mga state actors, wala ‘yang human rights para sa kanila. Doon lang sila naka-focus sa non-state actors (It is universally established that human rights are just for non-state actors. State actors have no human rights. Human rights groups only focus on non-state actors),” Dela Rosa replied.
“Ako pulis ako. I am a state actor. So hindi ako puwede mag-demand ng human rights although tao rin lang kami, nasasaktan at naghahanap rin ng katarungan (I am a policeman. I am a state actor. So I cannot demand human rights although we are just people, too, who get hurt and seek justice),” he added.
Lingao clarified that by definition, human rights groups guard against abuses by the state and state actors. As for non-state actors, it is government’s duty to chase after them, not of the Commission on Human Rights or other human rights groups.
He then asked Dela Rosa for his view on the functions of human rights groups, given President Rodrigo Duterte’s distaste for them. Would Duterte’s dismissal of human rights and the groups advocating these have any effect on the police and how they view the issue?
“Sa akin, generally mapa-pulis ka, mapa-military ka … ang hinahanap ko palagi ‘yung human rights ng aking mga tao na namatay sa engkwentro, sa giyera (For me, generally, whether you are from the police or the military… I always look for the human rights of my people who died in an encounter, in battle),” Dela Rosa replied.
He claimed that one police personnel had his genitals mutilated by the New People’s Army.
“I have been there and done that and observed everything … Bakit ang human rights doon lang palagi ‘yung pag meron kaming engkwentro, tinamaan ‘yung mga bahay ng mga sibilyan, ‘yun na, (darating) ang human rights? Paano nandun ‘yung mga NPA sa mga bahay nila (Why are human rights groups always there when, during an encounter, civilian homes are hit, and the human rights groups arrive? The NPA were in the houses in the first place),” dela Rosa said.
“Tao rin kami kahit papaano … so sana may rights din kami na babantayan nitong mga advocates na ito (We are also human, somehow… so I wish we also had rights that these advocates would look after),” he said.
Minutes later, the newest incident of police abuse was brought to Dela Rosa’s attention. Video showed Mandaluyong City police beating a man they had caught drinking in the streets, and even threatening to shoot him and his companion.
“That’s too much, para sa akin. Iimbestigahan natin ‘yan. Pero kung ang basehan natin ‘yung video lang, that’s too much. Dapat siya ang paluin (For me, that’s too much. We will investigate that. But if we will just based it on the video, that’s too much. He (policeman) should be the one beaten),” Dela Rosa told News5.