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Dela Rosa on PNP, US ties: 'As is'

MANILA, Philippines – Ties between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and its Chinese counterparts may soon be strengthened, but that doesn't mean its American counterparts are going to be sidelined.

"Hindi pa. Continue pa rin kami sa aming relationship, as is. Parang walang nangyari (Our relationship continues, as is. It's as if nothing happened)," said PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa in a chance interview on Tuesday, October 25, when asked if American police had expressed concern over the Philippines' apparent "pivot" to China.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who appointed Dela Rosa to the top PNP post, has been vocal in his desire to distance the country from the United States. During a speech in front of Filipino and Chinese businessmen, Duterte announced his "separation" from the US, both in economic and military terms.

The newly-elected president later explained that this "separation" merely means to "chart another way" in terms of foreign policy from the Western power.

The US, through various law enforcement agencies, works closely with the PNP. American counterparts typically provide training, equipment, and even intelligence to the country.

But as far as Dela Rosa is concerned, the PNP's relationship with the US – its future included – will depend on the Americans.

"Ang effect niyan kung hihinto na sila sa atin, ayaw na nila sa atin. Ang sinasabi naman [ni Pangulong Duterte] hindi naman talaga separation. Independent foreign policy lang," explained Dela Rosa, who was part of the Philippines' official contingent in China.

(The effect is if they stop helping us, that only means they don't want us anymore. What President Duterte is saying isn't separation. He just wants an independent foreign policy.)

During the trip to China, the PNP was given 115 boxes of equipment by Chinese police, including protective gear and monitoring equipment to aid them in the "war on drugs."

Dela Rosa was handpicked by Duterte to lead the PNP in what was initially a 6-month "war on drugs." From July 1 to October 27, police have launched close to 33,000 anti-illegal drugs operations nationwide, killing over 1,709 drug suspects and arresting more than 31,000 suspects.

Over 2,700 deaths, meanwhile, are "under investigation" nationwide. These cases are not necessarily linked to illegal drugs but many of these deaths, police officials have said in the past, are apparent vigilante-style killings.

The PNP has been criticized for the high death toll attributed or linked to the country's war on drugs. Police have been accused of violating human rights and due process, a claim top officials including Dela Rosa vehemently deny.

Recently, the San Francisco Police Department announced that it would suspend a 16-year-long partnership with the PNP over the spate of killings linked to the war on drugs. – Rappler.com