(UPDATED – 10:13 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines – Director General Ronald dela Rosa challenged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to have policemen who reportedly sought sanctuary with church official execute affidavits and testify before the Senate.
At the same time, the Philippine National Police chief lashed at critics of the war on drugs, calling them “ingrates,” even as he agreed with respondents of a recent survey who said the poor have borne the brunt of the killings that have marked the government’s anti-narcotics campaign.
On Monday, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said a number of lawmakers who were “troubled by their consciences” had sought protection from them and indicated willingness to tell about their participation in extrajudicial killings.
Should they decide to talk, Villegas said, “(T)he Catholic Church will see to it that they are in no way induced to speak, to disclose, nor to make allegations by any member of the clergy or the hierarchy.” At the same time, he also promised none of the policemen would be turned over to government against their wishes.
Reacting to this, Dela Rosa said: “Sana naman huwag nila gawing fishing expedition. Kung totoo man i-present nila sa Senado, kunan nila affidavit (We hope they don’t turn this into a fishing expedition. If this is true present them to the Senate, take their affidavits).”
The PNP chief also said there was a need to profile the law enforcers should they testify because “we are talking about testimonies. Paano maging credible kung kwestiyunable source ng testimonya, example ‘yung prinesent sa senado … then afterwards nag-recant ng statement, so dapat ‘yung katotohanan, kahit na kami tatamaan basta katotohanan lang huwag lang fabricated (How can testimony be credible when the source is questionable, for example one presented in the Senate … then afterwards recants their statement, so the truth is needed, even if we are targeted so long as it is the truth and not fabricated).”
“The pill may be bitter but we can swallow that bitter pill,” he added.
Also, he warned that officers who seek the CBCP’s protection would still be subject to the PNP’s rules if by doing so they become absent without official leave.
As for the PNP’s critics, Dela Rosa had this to say: “Ako, prangka ako (na) tao (I am a frank person), you can criticize us to high heavens but I can tell you straight sa mga mata, ‘yung mga critic, sabihan ko kayo … ‘Ingrato kayo’ (in your eyes, the critics, I can tell you … ‘You ingrates’).”
He also claimed: “Alam ko (I know) deep inside your heart alam mo nakikinabang kayo sa (you are benefiting from the) peace and order idinulot ng (brought by the) war on drugs.”
As for the results of a Social Weather Stations survey in which 60 percent of respondents said the war on drugs has targeted only poor Filipinos, Dela Rosa said it was true but clarified this was because “mas marami mahirap na nagbebenta droga kaysa mayaman (more poor people peddle drugs than rich)” because of the “structure of the drug pyramid” where the base is made up of street level pushers, mostly poor.
He denied that the war on drugs exclusively targeted the poor, citing the late mayors Reynaldo Parojinog of Ozamis City and Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte, who were both killed by police, the former in drug raids, the latter in his jail cell in what authorities claimed was a shootout.
Dela Rosa predicted more killings, saying these would only end “kung wala nang lumalaban (when no one fights back anymore).”
Police claim all deaths during anti-drug operations are from shootouts with suspects resisting arrest.
However, in August, the deaths of Kian Lloyd delos Santos and Carl Angelo Arnaiz, teenagers police claimed were killed in gunfights but subsequent investigations tended to indicate may have been executed, reignited public anger at a war on drugs believed to have claimed more than 13,000 lives since last year, either in police operations or in vigilante murders many of which are also believed carried out by authorities.
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