MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – After only a little over a week in office, the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday, July 11, decried "legal harassment" against the police force.
Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, addressing personnel in Camp Crame during the Monday flag-raising ceremony, said the "harassment" was a result of its campaign against crime, drugs and corruption.
It's the same campaign that fueled the 2016 win of President Rodrigo Duterte, who appointed Dela Rosa as his first PNP chief.
In a press conference Monday morning, Dela Rosa urged police personnel to move forward in their operations and to not be "intimidated" by the threats of cases filed against them.
‘Defender of the PNP’
Speaking to the media, the government’s top lawyer said: “I am here to indicate the support of the Duterte government for the anti-[illegal] drug campaign. The office of the Solicitor General is the defender of the Republic of the Philippines and the people of the Philippines. The people of the Philippines has had enough of this drug menace that is corrupting and destroying our youth and society." (READ: SolGen taunts De Lima: What did you do to curb illegal drugs?)
“We will not allow anybody to derail this effort of the PNP and its officers to implement the order of our president to stop this drug trafficking and drug menace in our society. i am here to encourage the PNP not to be afraid of any congressional or Senate investigations. we will defend them. If there is a 'fiscalizer,' I am the neutralizer and the defender of the PNP,” added Calida, who was once undersecretary of the justice department.
Calida insisted that De Lima – and everyone else that accuses the PNP of irregularities in its operations – should produce proof of their allegations.
“He who alleges must prove,” said Calida.
Calida went on to stress that when police encounter drug suspects, the situation is never "normal."
"We will not allow the police officers to be killed in the line of duty. Meron po tayong batas sa revised penal code... Article 11 there are justified circumstances when the police can legally kill a criminal or suspect. I believe Senator De Lima should review her criminal law," he added.
Plan to investigate
De Lima had announced plans to launch an investigation into recent police operations around the country that target illegal drugs. Hundreds have died in what the PNP is calling legitimate operations alone. (READ: Drug suspect killings rise after Duterte victory)
Prominent human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno denounced the killings, calling on the President himself to "not kill in my name." (READ: President Duterte, do not kill in my name)
Dela Rosa said it was Calida himself who volunteered to visit Camp Crame on Monday, days after De Lima made her announcement. The PNP chief said the President has yet to speak to him about the pending Senate probe, but quipped that they had "communicated" via "mental telepathy."
The 4-star general was chief of the Davao City Police Office when Duterte was mayor. Most of his professional career has been spent in the region as well. (READ: Duterte's 'Bato': Who is Ronald dela Rosa?)
Why stop now?
Just last week, Dela Rosa said the PNP was open to investigation amid allegations of summary executions in the guise of legitimate police operations. He also insisted that he was against extrajudicial killings.
"It dampens the morale of our PNP personnel, but right now, since nire-reassure ni Sol Gen ang ating kapulisan, andyan 'yung Office of the Solicitor General to defend any case to be filed or [is] being filed against our operating personnel, so, high morale ang kapulisan," said Dela Rosa, when asked if the PNP was "threatened" by De Lima’s pronouncements.
(It dampens the morale of our PNP personnel, but right now, since the Sol Gen gave his assurances to the police force, the Office of the Solicitor General is there to defend our operating personnel from cases, our morale has been boosted.)
The PNP chief, who was sworn into office on July 1, added: "Ngayon I'm openly encouraging our people, sulong mga kapatid! Walang atrasan ito. Sulong! The momentum is on our side, we cannot afford to waste this momentum. Marami na po, libu-libo na po ang nagsu-surrender. Marami na po ang namamatay, so ano pa, hihinto tayo?"
(Now, I’m openly encouraging our people. Let's move forward. There's no backing down. The momentum is on our side, we cannot afford to waste this momentum. Many, thousands have surrendered or died. Do we stop now?) – Rappler.com