MANILA, Philippines – The chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday, August 1, assured the public that the police force “values lives and wants to preserve lives,” amid concerns over the rising death toll in the government’s campaign against crime, criminality and illegal drugs.
PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, who heads the 160,000-strong police force, was asked about sentiments that innocent people – those without ties to the drug trade at all – were being killed in crossfire. The PNP has tallied more than 300 deaths in anti-illegal drugs operations around the country.
Independent groups, including media entities, estimate hundreds of extrajudicial killing victims.
“Kung inosente yan, masakit rin sa amin kung may madisgrasya na inosente, eh pareho tayong tao. We value lives, we want to preserve lives… kaya ayaw talaga nating may mamatay kaya kung sinasabi na merong inosente, they should prove it,” Dela Rosa told reporters in a chance interview.
(If those were really innocent lives, that pains us too if innocent lives were dragged into this because we’re humans too. We value lives, we want to preserve lives… we don’t want people killed so if they’re really innocent, they should prove it.)
Twenty-year-old Roman ‘Oman’ Manaois and 26-year-old Lauren Rosales are among those who were killed by unidentified men in the last week of July. Manaois, his relatives and friends say, was simply at the wrong place and at the wrong time. Rosales was gunned down while riding a jeep in Makati City. Her loved ones deny she ever used illegal drugs.
Dela Rosa had previously attributed some of the extrajudicial killings drug syndicates killing each other as the government’s campaign against them intensifies.
The PNP chief has always defended his men and women, saying that he “presumed regularity” in their operations.
“I-prove nila, kasi masakit naman sa aming mga pulis na lagi nalang ina-acuse ng ganoon. Eh nagtratrabaho na nga yung pulis, inaaccuse pa ng ganoon. Eh yung pulis na yan, may mga anak rin ‘yan eh. May mga pamilya rin ‘yan. What if yung anak nila ang madisgrasya, yung innocent life ng mga anak nila… dahil sa reckless operations? Hindi naman siguro. Tao rin kami,” Dela Rosa said.
(They should prove those allegations because it’s also painful for police to be accused of killing innocent people because they’re working hard. Police have children too. They have families too. What if it’s their children whose lives are endangered because of a reckless operation? So they wouldn’t do that. We’re people too.)
He added: “Kung kayo tao, nasasaktan… ang pulis tao, nasasaktan. At kami’y nagmamahal sa aming kapwa. Ayaw talaga namin may masaktan unecessarily.”
(If you get hurt, police get hurt too. We care for our fellowmen. We don’t want them to get hurt unnecessarily.)
In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte reminded law enforcement personnel and government officials not to slip in their campaign against illegal drugs, crime, and corruption.
True to his campaign promise, the PNP and other government agencies have a 6-month deadline to eliminate – or at least suppress – illegal drugs in the country. – Rappler.com