MANILA – Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa became emotional once again on Tuesday, at a Senate inquiry on the death of two students separately killed by Caloocan cops, taking offense with Senator Risa Hontiveros’ remark about an alleged “state policy” for police to kill drug suspects.
“I’m grieving for the majority of my men who are– ‘yung buhay nila naka – tapos i-accuse na polisya na gano’n. Masakit. Magpakamatay kami para sa inyo, para sa tao. Napakahirap na sabihin na policy na malawakang pagpatay [Then you’re accusing us of that policy. It hurts. We sacrifice our lives for you, for the people. It’s hard for us when you speak of a policy to slaughter people],” Dela Rosa cried out in frustration.
“I am the chief PNP. Nand’yan si Lord, nakikita niya. Alam niya [The Lord is there. He sees and knows],” he added.
While asserting that President Rodrigo Duterte had not given any orders to kill suspects, Dela Rosa added that he was willing to resign as PNP head and return to Davao City if such a state policy is proven to exist.
“Masama kapag sabihin na gano’n [It’s bad to say that],” he told Hontiveros. “Dapat you should be careful, your honor. You know me personally, your honor. Hindi ako papayag na gagamitin ang pulis ng masama [I will not allow the police to be used for evil].”
At the Senate hearing, Hontiveros earlier said she believed members of the PNP kill suspected criminals because of a “policy” that allowed killings in the name of the war on drugs.
“Hindi rin ako naniniwala na hayok sa pagpatay ang ilan sa ating kapulisan. May polisya na nagdidikta sa kultura ng patayang nangyari ngayon sa ating bayan,” she said.
[I do not believe that some of our policemen are afflicted with bloodlust. There is a policy that dictates a culture of killings that’s now happening in our country.]
Reacting to the senator’s remarks, Dela Rosa immediately confronted Hontiveros and denied any state policy to kill suspects.
Citing the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), Hontiveros said there was an existence of a “pattern” among the killings based on the cases involving the two teenagers.
She later requested for the Caloocan City police’s pre-operation and post-operation reports on the mission that resulted in the death of Delos Santos.
Dela Rosa refused to give the documents, however, saying they no longer have the motivation to submit because they have already been “pre-judged” by the senator.
This apparently stung Hontiveros, who said she expected more professional behavior from the PNP chief. She urged him to continue engaging with the Senate, as she wanted him to be part of the solution to problems plaguing the institution.
This prompted a frustrated Dela Rosa to break down at the Senate hearing.
Hontiveros also clarified she was addressing her call for police accountability to the Office of the President, hinting at the President’s overpowering pressure for law enforcers to deliver on his vow to wipe out those involved in the drug trade.
PAO chief reacts: no pattern
PAO chief Persida Acosta, meanwhile, also called out Hontiveros for attributing to her office the observation that a “pattern” is surfacing among police drug operations based on the cases of Delos Santos and Carl Arnaiz, the UP student also gunned down by Caloocan police just a day after Kian.
“Wala pong pronouncements ang PAO na may pattern dito [The PAO had no pronouncements about a pattern]” Acosta said.
Acosta said the similarities she cited between the cases of Santos and Arnaiz were only related to the profile of the victims – both were teenagers and students, having OFWs as parents, and both not being named in any
“Wala po kaming sinabing pattern…Wala po kaming sinasabing gano’n. I swear to God. Huwag niyo po kaming iquo-quote [We did not say there was a pattern… We were not saying anything about that. I swear to God. Please do not quote us],” she said.
Acosta, who on Monday helped Arnaiz’s family file charges against the Caloocan cops who killed Carl, also denied that the police have been ordered to kill suspected criminals.
“Wala pong utos ang mga pulis na pumatay nang walang kaawa-awa. Kaya kilyenata namin…buhay. Hinuli ng kapulisan natin. Kawawa naman ang pulis na handang magbuwis ng buhay. Parang nalalahat na sila,” the lawyer said.
[There was no order to the pulis to kill without mercy. Thousands of our PAO clients are still alive because the cops arrested them and did not kill them. The police who were ready to sacrifice their lives are pitiful. It’s like they are being generalized.]
However, Hontiveros corrected the PAO chief, saying she could quote Acosta based on a radio interview.
“Sabi niyo po sa dzmm, ‘Ang punto dito buhay ito eh. Bakit ganito ang pattern? Parang may pagkakahalintulad ito kay Kian. Magkasunod po o…oras lang din ang pagitan n’yan kung bibilangin ng dalawang iyan [You told DZMM, ‘the point here is a person’s life. Why this pattern? There are similarities to Kian. The incident happened successively or happened hours in between only if you count it] ,” Hontiveros quoted Acosta as saying.