Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – "Sigurado meron pang madadagdag bukas (There would surely be more tomorrow), your honor."
This was what Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said on Tuesday, August 23, during the Senate’s second hearing on the spate of extrajudicial killings during the Duterte administration.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon took the chance to question Dela Rosa on the statistics of deaths since July 1, when the new administration took over, and until Tuesday.
"Sa kabuuan po 1,779 ang namatay kahapon, ngayon po 1,916. Ang ibig po bang sabihin sa nakalipas na 24 hours, 137 ang namatay (In sum, 1779 were killed as of yesterday, now it is at 1,916. Does this mean that in the last 24 hours, 137 were killed)?" Drilon asked.
At the first hearing on Monday, the PNP reported 712 drug-related deaths due to police operations and 1,067 deaths under investigations.
But the following day, the PNP reported an increase in deaths – 756 deaths due to police operations and 1,160 deaths outside police operations or deaths under investigation.
"Nag-a-update po kami. May bago pong discovery (We are updating [the figures]. There were new discoveries)," Dela Rosa said, adding there were suspects killed while Monday’s hearing was ongoing.
The police chief also remarked: "Mas ma-alarm po kayo, your honor, kung pinababa po namin – 'yung patay kahapon ngayon buhay or baliktad po, 'yung buhay po kahapon ngayon namatay. So nadagdagan po because of aggressive police operations."
(Be more worried, your honor, if we brought down [the number] – those reported dead yesterday are alive today or in reverse, those alive yesterday are dead today. The figures increased because of aggressive police operations.)
Drilon, seemingly surprised with the response, further asked, "So the 712 total deaths reported yesterday [due to police operations] were still not enough?"
"Kulang 'yon, your honor. While I was presenting, merong namamatay so nadadagdagan po ngayon (It's incomplete, your honor. While I was presenting yesterday, more died)," he said.
To which Drilon replied in apparent disbelief, "Bukas po puwede madagdagan ulit (Is it possible there would be more tomorrow)?"
Dela Rosa quickly responded, "Sigurado, your honor, meron madadagdag bukas (For sure, your honor, there would be more tomorrow)."
Drilon, at this point, could not hide his reaction and sarcastically asked Senator Leila De Lima – chairperson of the Senate committee on justice – to stop the proceedings as it might only increase the killings.
"Siguro, Madame chairman, 'wag na tayo mag-hearing baka nadadagdagan ang namatay every time we're here (Perhaps, Madame chairman, let's not conduct the hearing because the number of those killed may increase every time we're here)," Drilon said.
Dela Rosa's face visibly changed with Drilon’s remark but the PNP chief did not respond.
Senator Joel Villanueva, who was next in line to ask questions, told Dela Rosa not to worry as he supports their initiative.
"Minsan nakakapikon minsan gumagawa ka ng tama may mga isa o dalawang balita na naghahamper sa inyong ma-accomplish (Sometimes, it's irritating that you're doing something right then there are one or two reports hampering what you want to accomplish)," Villanueva said. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org