MANILA, Philippines – While repeatedly emphasizing that he wasn’t one to blame his predecessors, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa admitted there was a “lack of emphasis” against illegal drugs under the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III.
“Basically okay okay naman, okay. Medyo kulang lang sa diin. Kulang sa emphasis, pero doing well pa rin,” Dela Rosa said in a Rappler Talk interview on Friday, July 15. He was asked to assess the performance of the police force under the previous administration.
(Basically, it was okay. But it lacked force. It lacked emphasis, but the PNP still did well.)
Dela Rosa, who assumed his post on July 1, leads the PNP in its “invigorated” campaign against illegal drugs. Curbing the spread of dangerous drugs was among President Rodrigo Duterte’s key campaign promises.
“I don’t want to blame them because sabihin naman nila: iba yung time ninyo, iba ‘yung time namin. We are speaking of different times. Sa akin lang, ‘yung diin, ‘yung emphasis doon sa drug campaign. Hindi maging ganito kalala yung problema natin sa drugs kung ‘yung 6 years na ‘yun talaga inupakan niya nang inupakan ‘yang problema sa drugs, diba?” he added, referring to his predecessors.
(I don’t want to blame them because they’ll say that their time was different from mine. We are speaking of different times. But I’m just talking about the emphasis on the illegal drugs campaign. Our problem concerning drugs wouldn’t be this big if during those 6 years, they really focused on the drug problem, right?)
The police chief said the distribution of illegal drugs even “strengthened” the past 6 years. Both Duterte and Dela Rosa have said in the past that the country was on the verge of narco politics, or a culture wherein the drug trade fuels politics and vice versa. (READ: Duterte to Peter Lim: Go to NBI to prove you’re not a drug lord)
Asked to compare the drug problem in the Philippines to neighboring countries, Dela Rosa said it is “very serious.”
“I can tell you… Kung hindi natin ito na-asksyunan, ito, ito ngayong during this time… kung hanggang ngayon pabaya pa rin tayo, we will be ruled by narco politics. We will be ruled by narco politicians. We will be threatened every day by narco terrorism, narco terrorists. ‘Yan ang mangyayari sa atin,” he added.
(If we don’t act on this now, during this time… if until now we let it be, we will be ruled by narco politics. We will be ruled by narco politicians. We will be threatened every day by narco terrorism, narco terrorists. That’s what would happen to us.)
Dela Rosa was all praises for the PNP in their campaign so far, saying that police unit commanders have been “working double time.” (READ: Dela Rosa on big-time drug lords: ‘Their time will come’)
“You can see that in what’s happening in everyday: maraming patay, maraming nahuli, maraming nagsurrender (many are killed, arrested, or surrender)… these people will not just surrender without any reason,” he added.
In the end, Dela Rosa said the police have Duterte to thank for their current campaign against illegal drugs. (READ: Duterte names alleged police generals in drug trade)
“Eh nagkakaganito lang ‘yan dahil ang presidente natin talagang may… excuse me for my words – nagkaroon tayo ng presidente na may bayag. May bayag meaning talagang napakatapang na kaya niyang gawin ang gusto niyang gawin,” he said.
(We’re doing this know because… excuse me for my words – we elected a president with balls. I mean he’s tough so he does what he wants to do.)
“So down the line, ang ating mga kapulisan, nagkakaroon na rin ng bayag na gawin iyan. Noon kasi, takot silang mag operate dahil pag itong isang drug lord na ito’y nakalinya sa isang pulitiko, ‘yung pulitiko eh magsusumbong sa higher-ups doon sa Malacañang… ma relieve ka, mamalasin ka… so takot sila,” he explained.
(Down the line, our police get the courage to conduct operations. Before, they’d be afraid to operate because if a drug lord has a direct line to a politician, this politician will tell the higher-ups in Malacañang. You might be relieved, you might fall under favor so they’re afraid.)
The 4-star police general also defended his men and women from allegations of extrajudicial killings in the course of police operations. (READ: De Lima files Senate reso to probe drug suspect killings)
“I give them the benefit of the doubt,” said Dela Rosa, who has repeatedly said he is against all forms of vigilantism and extrajudicial killings. – Rappler.com