MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa again criticized the media for supposed biased reporting about the Duterte administration's war on drugs.
Speaking to sacked Caloocan cops on the first day of their retraining and reorientation, Dela Rosa recounted his visit to China for the International Police Organization (Interpol) General Assembly. He recalled that he was accompanied by a liaison officer from the Chinese police, who heard he was a "hero" from Chinese media.
"Nagkuwento siya, sabi niya, 'Mr Rosa (sic), Mr Rosa I googled you, I googled you, and I found out you are a hero in the Philippines.' Halos gusto na lumuhod ng babae. 'You were a hero in the Philippines,'" Dela Rosa said.
(She said "Mr Rosa (sic), Mr Rosa, I googled you, I googled you, and I found out you are a hero in the Philippines." The woman almost wanted to kneel. "You were a hero in the Philippines.")
The PNP chief said he asked the Chinese cop where she got that impression, and she cited Chinese media.
"Sabi ko (I said) no, no, no, no. According to Philippine media, I am [a] villain in the Philippines. Baka fake news ang nabasa mo (Maybe you read fake news)," he said.
Dela Rosa urged the sacked cops to improve because, according to him, the media is hounding them.
"Ingat talaga properly, ayusin natin according to the rule of law, observe palagi 'yung human rights. Bakit? Observe natin dahil 'onting pagkakamali natin, palalakihin 'yan ng media, sigurado 'yan, sigurado," the top cop said. The Caloocan cops clapped.
(Be careful, let's act according to the rule of law, always observe human rights. Why? We should observe because if we commit even just a small mistake, the media will blow it out of proportion, that's for sure.)
He continued: "Gano'n tayo kahirap, nag-o-operate in a very unfriendly environment. Gano'n ang pakiramdam natin ngayon." (That's how difficult our job is, we operate in an unfriendly environment. That's how we feel right now.)
Dela Rosa lamented that the media supposedly falls short in its coverage of police killed in the line of duty, citing the case of stabbed Caloocan cop Ronald Anicete. (READ: Caloocan cop, suspect killed in one-time, big-time operation)
"Bakit binalik-balik ba ng ABS-CBN 'yun, pinakita sa news? Wala 'di ba? Hindi para 'taboy ng news 'yun, hindi maganda na news kaya hindi pinapakita," the PNP chief said.
(Did ABS-CBN repeatedly show his story, show him in the news? They didn't, right? It's not good news for them so they didn't show it.)
Pressure from the press?
Asked to clarify his remarks after the program, Dela Rosa said he was just "frustrated," and it appears to him that the media seeks to incite hate.
"Bakit pabalik-balik, paulit-ulit? Para bang nag-i-incite kayo sa taumbayan na magalit kayo sa pulis, dapat magalit kayo sa Duterte administration," the PNP chief said.
(Why do you keep on emphasizing the issue? It's like you're urging the Filipino people to get angry at the police, to hate the Duterte administration.)
Dela Rosa was referring to the high-profile cases of Kian delos Santos and Carl Arnaiz, which have been extensively covered by the media. Their deaths sparked widespread outrage, and prompted the PNP to sack the Caloocan cops.
Investigations are still ongoing into the cases of the two boys, while suspects in the killings of Anicete and Senior Police Officer 1 Junior Hilario have been jailed.
Dela Rosa closed his speech by telling the cops to march on cautiously, but passionately.
"Whether we appear as [a] villain to everyone, basta ito lang ilagay 'nyo, isapuso ninyo at isaisip ninyo: na itong pagpupulis ko ay serbisyo ito. Bahala na ano'ng sabihin nila diyan, hindi kailangan kami magpapapogi, magpapasikat," he said.
(Whether we appear as a villain to everyone, just keep in mind and in heart that becoming a cop is public service. Don't mind the criticism, we don't have to make ourselves look good or be popular.) – Rappler.com
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.