Dela Rosa: Not time to point fingers

Bea Cupin
Dela Rosa: Not time to point fingers
Davao regional police assure locals that the city and its neighboring provinces are safe

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The country’s top cop came to the defense of city, provincial, and regional officials on Saturday, September 3, in the aftermath of an explosion in this city that claimed the lives of at least 14 people and injured 68.

Nakalusot lang talaga (They were able to find a way). It’s not the right time to point fingers. Nalusutan lang talaga (They were just able to find a way),” said Dela Rosa in a press conference, when asked about reports that Davao City’s officials – from the local government and police – had received reports about a supposed plan to bomb Davao City days before.

Just before 11 pm on Friday, September 2, an improvised explosive device (IED) ripped through a popular night market along Roxas Avenue in Davao City. Police have since narrowed their list of suspects to 4 “persons of interest.”

Follow-up operations are ongoing.

Asked if the region’s investigation into the blast involves a probe into their own ranks, Dela Rosa was dismissive.

“That’s the least of our concerns. I am not dissatisfied with the performance of our policemen here in Region 11. They are doing the best,” he said.

Dela Rosa, who assumed the top PNP spot on July 1, 2016, is a Davaoeño. He was once the city’s police director and served under the terms of current mayor Sara Duterte and former mayor, President Rodrigo Duterte.

The police general explained that terrorists sometimes still find ways despite the best intelligence.

“During my time, a bomb exploded in Davao too. I was intelligence officer during the Sasa Warf bombing and the Ecoland Valentine’s Day bombing. So that means that they really just find ways. We cannot just blame anybody,” he said.

Pushing the argument further, he pointed out that even the “world’s strongest intelligence agency,” the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was unable to stop the September 11 attacks.

Davao Region police director Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan, meanwhile, assured residents of Davao City – and the rest of the region – that both police and military forces are “doing [their] best to keep the situation… as normal as possible.”

“That’s why we encourage the return of daily activities and the normal course of commerce in the city of Davao,” he added.

Saturday evening, Roxas Avenue was again opened to the usual food stalls that are an ubiquitous site in the bustling city. Gaerlan did, however, call on Davaoeños to “help secure Davao” by reporting to police any suspicious persons or packages.

Duterte had earlier placed the entire country under a “state of lawlessness” following the Friday night blast. Dela Rosa later declared the PNP under full alert.

Security in Davao has been tighter than usual, particularly at the city’s borders. (For updates on the Davao blast, check Rappler’s live blog) – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.