BATAAN, Philippines – Insisting that he will not tolerate human rights violations and summary executions among his personnel, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Friday, July 8, said he “welcomed” a probe into the recent anti-illegal drugs operations that have resulted in hundreds of deaths.
“I presume all the operations, mga raid ng kapulisan are legitimate at I presume that regular ['yun]. So kung meron talagang nakitang mali, ipapa-imbestigahan natin 'yan,” said Dela Rosa in a press conference during a visit to a police camp in the province.
(I presume all the operations, the raids conducted by police are legitimate and I presume they are all regular. But if they find something wrong, we’ll have that investigated.)
Dela Rosa was asked if newly-elected Senator Leila de Lima’s plan to file a resolution to conduct a probe into the killings of drug suspects would be a “threat” to the police force.
De Lima, speaking to reporters on Thursday, said there were “telltale signs” of summary executions in some of the operations conducted by different police units around the country.
The PNP, since President Rodrigo Duterte took his oath as president on June 30, has intensified its campaign against illegal drugs.
Duterte won the 2016 elections on a promise to stop crime, drugs and corruption.
“Hindi po natin cinocondone 'yung ating mga tauhan na nagviviolate ng human rights. Ayaw na ayaw ko po niyan, lalo na 'yung summary execution... ayaw na ayaw ko 'yan. Gusto ko 'yung lumaban,” said Dela Rosa.
(We do not condone human rights violations by our people. I do not approve of that, particularly summary executions. I want policemen to respond only if the suspect fought back.)
“We welcome an investigation kung meron man (if that’s the case),” he added.
De Lima, former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, however said: “Halos araw-araw may mga namamatay (Almost every day a person dies) and many of them are an offshoot of police operations. So we have to look into the legitimacy of the manner and the method by which these police enforcers are doing their job."
Dela Rosa, who was Davao City police chief when Duterte was mayor, is known for his programs to eradicate drugs in the city. Among them is “Oplan Tukhang” which involves police personnel literally knocking on suspected drug users’ doors (tuktok or “to knock” in Bisaya) and asking them to stop their ways (hangyo or “ask” in Bisaya).
“Oplan Tukhang” has already been replicated in different provinces and cities around the country. In Bataan, for instance, some 3,000 drug users have turned themselves in for “reformation.”
But Duterte has also been accused of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings in the city. The former Davao mayor has denied links to the so-called “Davao Death Squad,” but he has also jokingly admitted to killing thousands.