Dela Rosa admits cops demanded money to remove names from drug list

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa admitted on Friday, January 12, that cops had demanded money from drug suspects to remove their names from the infamous drug list.

Dela Rosa told reporters this while sharing that he asked his top cops to prepare for their return to Oplan Tokhang, on the condition that they change its implementation. (READ: Will you know if you’re on a drug list? Not that easy, Calida says)

"Ang instruction ko sa kanila sa command conference is that ibalik natin ang Tokhang, pero 'yung totoong spirit ng Tokhang, hindi 'yung ibang Tokhang na ginagawa nila dati na 'yung pulis, may dalang listahan ng drug personalities sa barangay at sasabihan 'yung drug personality: 'Ikaw, nasa listahan ka. Magbigay ka ng pera para tanggalin ka namin sa listahan,'" Dela Rosa said.

(My instruction during our command conference was, let's do Tokhang again, but the real spirit of Tokhang, not the kind of Tokhang that they did before, where the policemen would bring a list of drug personalities to the barangay, and they would tell the drug personality: "You! You're on the drug list. Pay up and we'll remove your name from the list.)

He did not say which regions or units engaged in this illegal practice, but Dela Rosa emphasized how Tokhang should be done. (READ: Dela Rosa on PNP's drug war return: 'We have learned a lot of lessons')

"Kausapin ka lang. Although kilala ka na pusher sa barangay, pakiusapan ka lang ng pulis at mga tao sa barangay na, 'Please ihinto mo na 'yan, at saka kung gusto mo magpa-rehab, willing 'yung ating local government,'" Dela Rosa said.

(Cops should just talk to you. Even if you are a known pusher in the barangay, they should just ask you, "Please stop. And if you want to get rehabilitated, our local government is willing [to help you].")

The command conference came over a month after the PNP was ordered back into the drug war by President Rodrigo Duterte. The one-month hiatus was prompted by drug-related controversies.

While Dela Rosa has since said cops nationwide may continue their anti-illegal drugs operations, his office has not released an order reversing the earlier suspension memorandum by the PNP Directorate for Operations, which crafted and oversees Oplan Double Barrel. 

He said he will formally order them back by this month, after ironing out their supplemental guidelines. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.