Philippines Report

Dela Rosa says he has no legal liability for cops’ mess during his term


Senatorial candidate Ronald dela Rosa said he has no legal liability for the irregularities committed by his men in implementing the anti-drug operation when he was the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief.

Dela Rosa said this on Saturday, February 9, when the cases of slain teenager Kian delos Santos and Korean Jee Ick Joo were raised during GMA7’s senatorial forum.

His conscience, however, carries the burden, the former top cop said.

“Ang aking pananagutan diyan ay konsensiya lamang. Ako'y nakokonsensiya dahil nangyayari ‘yan during my time,” Dela Rosa said.

(My only liability there is my conscience. I am bothered by my conscience because it happened during my time.)

“But when you say legal [liability], ito po'y pinanagutan na ng mga suspects dahil nga lahat ng mga sensational cases na nangyari during my term, lahat po ‘yan ay na-solve, nakasuhan, nakulong, at ngayo'y nahaharap sa kaso, lahat ng mga pulis na nag-aabuso,” he added.

(But when you say legal [liability], the suspects were already made to account because all the sensational cases during my term had been solved. All abusive policemen were charged and jailed, and are now facing cases.)

Seventeen-year-old Delos Santos was killed by Caloocan cops who dragged him, a bystander, into an anti-drug operation. The 3 policemen were sentenced to reclusion perpetua, or imprisonment for 20 to 40 years, without eligibility for parole.

However, the former chief of Caloocan police Chito Bersaluna, who was sacked after public outrcry over Delos Santos’ slay, was later on promoted to Bulacan provincial police chief.

Meanwhile, Jee was the Korean businessman who was kidnapped by policemen and killed inside Camp Crame in 2016.

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, also running for senator, asked Dela Rosa why the police used the word “neutralize” in the memorandum circular for the implementation of Oplan Tokhang.

Diokno said the term could easily be misinterpreted as an order to kill drug suspects.

But Dela Rosa said only critics are giving the term a bad meaning.

“Ang masama diyan, kasi kayo ang nagbigay ng masamang meaning (The problem there is that you are the only ones who gave it a bad meaning)…. Neutralize means render the enemy incapable of committing further crime or further injury…. Hindi naman ibig sabihin patayin. Kayo lang ang nagbigay ng word na patay (It does not mean to kill. You are the only ones who said it means to kill),” Dela Rosa said.

Continue Oplan Tokhang

In a separate part of the debate, Dela Rosa and another senatorial bet, Samira Gutoc were asked whether or not they are in favor of continuing the government’s anti-dug operation.

The former PNP chief said Oplan Tokhang should be pursued because it “resulted to record numbers.”

“Bumaba ang index crime (Index crimes went down)…. At ang pinakaimportante diyan (And what's most important is that), we were able to give the streets back to the law-abiding citizens and most vulnerable sectors of society na noon ay takot na takot lumabas sa pamamahay dahil nagkalat ang adik at kriminal sa kalsada (who used to be so scared to go out of their homes because addicts and criminals were on the streets),” Dela Rosa said.

Gutoc, in response, cited the case of Barangay Bogo in Cebu, where there was no bloodshed in the campaign against drugs, and said only proper law enforcement is needed.

Gutoc then asked Dela Rosa about the families of victims of extrajudicial killings – to which the former chief said: “Advice ko sa mga namatayan, ‘yung internal cleansing tuloy-tuloy, marami nang nahuli, naabuso, nahulihan. Magtiwala sa ating criminal justice system, gumagana pero mabagal. Itaga mo sa bato: kahit di mo makuha hustisya dito sa lupa, makukuha mo sa langit dahil tayo lahat ay mananagot sa Poong Maykapal sa pagdating ng araw.”

(My advice to those who lost loved ones…. The internal cleansing [of the PNP] is ongoing. Many have been caught. Just believe in our criminal justice system. It is working for us even though it is slow. Mark my word: even if you do not attain justice on Earth, you will get it in heaven because we will all be answerable to God someday.) –

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