MANILA, Philippines — Amid calls for the Duterte administration to stop its bloody war on drugs, which lately victimized a 17-year-old student, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Ronaldo “Bato” dela Rosa on Monday advised critics of the government’s anti-narcotics campaign to hold their protests in depressed areas and not at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame.
“Okay lang [It’s okay]. They are free to voice their sentiments. Mag-appeal din ako sa kanila. Instead of going to the police, punta sila sa slum areas at doon sila mag-people power [I will also appeal to them. Instead of going to the police, they should go to the slum areas and conduct their people power there] ,” Dela Rosa told reporters.
2 teenagers killed, one missing amid Tokhang
Criticisms against the administration’s anti-narcotics campaign intensified following last month’s spike in the deaths of individuals in Metro Manila and Bulacan, who were suspected of being linked to drug trade.
Among the victims was Grade 11 student Kian Loyd Delos Santos, who was tortured and murdered by policemen in an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City last August 16.
On August 28, another teenager, 19-year-old former University of the Philippines student Carl Angelo Arnaiz, was found dead in a dark, grassy area along C-3 Road Caloocan.
According to a police report, Arnaiz was killed in a shootout with authorities after he allegedly robbed a taxi driver. The same police report said five packs of marijuana and shabu were recovered from Arnaiz’s belongings.
The teenagers’ parents said Arnaiz was incapable of carrying out such crime. They said he was not also involved in illegal drugs and his only vice was smoking.
Arnaiz went out with his neighbor, 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman, last August 17 to buy midnight snack from a store near his house in Brgy. San Andres, Cainta, Rizal. De Guzman remains missing.
On Monday, Dela Rosa said the government would continue its anti-drug drive despite increasing opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s pet campaign.
“Tuloy tuloy po ‘yan,” the PNP chief said.
Bato: Don’t prematurely judge cops linked to Arnaiz’s slay
Meanwhile, Dela Rosa appealed to critics not to prematurely judge police Officers 1 Jeffrey Perez and Ricky Arquilita. The two are being accused of torturing and killing Arnaiz. They were recently relieved from their posts and ordered transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
The PNP chief said what happened to Arnaiz was different from Delos Santos’ case.
“(I) caution every one not (to) quickly condemn our policemen. Iba… kaso na ‘yan [That case is different]. (It was a) case of police response. Hinoldup ang taxi driver. Nagresponde sila [The taxi driver was a holdup victim. The police responded],” said Dela Rosa.
Meanwhile, the League of Filipino Students condemned Arnaiz’s slay.
“Another life has been claimed by the police. Like Kian delos Santos, another student has been subjected to violence, and has been executed by the same people who have promised to serve the people,” said LFS national spokesperson JP Rosos said in a recent statement.
“It is crystal clear that the Philippine National Police and all other state forces did not exist to protect us, but to subdue us. They operate under the dictates of their generals and commanders-in-chief blindly, not promoting order, but imposing terror,” added Rosos.