Cops in ‘palit-ulo’? I’ll beat them up myself, says Dela Rosa

Bea Cupin
Cops in ‘palit-ulo’? I’ll beat them up myself, says Dela Rosa
The Philippine National Police chief says he has yet to get reports of this alleged scheme

MANILA, Philippines – The chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) denied allegations of a supposed scheme where police nab the wife, husband, or relatives of alleged drug personalities if the suspect is nowhere to be found.

“Dinedeny ko po ‘yan. Kung may kaso noon (I’m denying those allegations. If there are cases like that), I have yet to receive a complaint about it,” Director General Ronald dela Rosa said in a press conference on Monday, March 20.

In a video message for the United Nations side session on extrajudicial killings, Vice President Leni Robredo had said: “As it is, in some areas in Manila where poverty is rampant, residents tell us that communities are rounded up in places like basketball courts, women separated from men, those with tattoos asked to stand in a corner, their belongings searched. People are told that they didn’t have the right to demand for search warrants because they were squatters and did not own the properties on which their houses were built.”

She added: “They told us of the ‘palit-ulo’ scheme, which literally means ‘exchange heads,’ where the wife or husband or relative of a person in a so-called drug list will be taken if the person himself could not be found.”

Still reacting to allegations made by the Vice President, Dela Rosa on Monday added: “Iharap ‘yung pulis na ‘yan ngayon at susuntukin ko sa mukha ‘yang pulis na ‘yan sa harap mo. Bubugbugin ko ‘yang pulis na ‘yan. Iharap mo sa akin kung meron niyan. Hindi ko pababayaan ‘yung gano’ng klaseng ginagawa.”

(Show me that cop now and I’ll punch him in the face. I’ll beat that cop up. Show him to me if that scheme really happened. I won’t let them get away with those things.)

Dela Rosa also said a “palit-ulo” scheme does exist – but one vastly different from the kind Robredo described.

He said “palit-ulo” in the police context means convincing arrested drug suspects to identify their cohorts, bosses, or suppliers in exchange for the filing of a lesser case against them.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest allies, said the video message could be grounds for an impeachment complaint against Robredo. The message, said Alvarez, may be tantamount to betrayal of public trust, an impeachable offense.

The Speaker’s statement came after another legislator, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte.

Robredo used to be part of the Duterte Cabinet as his housing czar. She resigned after 5 months, however, after she was told to stop attending Cabinet meetings due to her “irreconcilable differences” with the President.

Since then, Robredo has taken a stronger stance against alleged human rights violations committed in the name of Duterte’s popular but bloody war on drugs.

The Office of the Vice President earlier said it wrote a letter to the Department of the Interior and Local Government as well as the PNP last January, asking for their findings on “drug-related extrajudicial killings.” Robredo’s spokesperson Georgina Hernandez said the letter remains unanswered.

Dela Rosa, however, said no letter arrived. –

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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.