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Dela Rosa vows to serve Duterte until his last breath

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said that he has "mixed feelings" over President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to extend his term a second time.

"Masaya, na medyo malungkot ng konti," Dela Rosa told reporters at Camp Crame on Wednesday, February 21. "Masaya in the sense na nandiyan pa din yung trust and confidence ng presidente sa akin. Masaya ako na patuloy ang aking pagse-serbisyo sa ating bansa. Medyo malungkot ng konti kasi nasira mga plano ko sa retirement.”

(I'm happy and a little sad. Happy because of the trust and confidence of the president in  me. I'm happy that I can still serve our country. Sad because this affects my retirements plans.)

President Duterte announced the indefinite extension on Tuesday, February 20, saying that the Chief PNP still "enjoys his trust and confidence."

This is the second time Duterte extended Dela Rosa's term. In December 2017, he had asked him to stay for another "two to 3 months" after his scheduled retirement in January.

The mandated retirement age of police officers is 55 and traditionally their last day of work is the day before their 56th birthday.

"Naiintindihan naman ng mga anak ko yan, at ng asawa ko," Dela Rosa said. "Unahin na muna natin ang serbisyo bago yung pamilya. Palaging second priority yung pamlya, first priority yung serbisyo."

(My children and wife understand this. Service first before family. Family is second priority, serivce is paramount.)

The president’s mission

While the President did specify exact length of Dela Rosa’s new extension, he said that it would be long enough for his “reforms to be heard.”

Dela Rosa explained that the president still needs him to continue his mission to get rid of scalawag cops, and to continue the war on drugs.

Gusto ng presidente tuloy tuloy para maachieve talaga yung gusto niyang mangyari sa Pilipinas,” (The president wants the continue with the program, until we achieve our goal for the Philippines.) he said. “To be fair about it, I can say we are winning.”

Dela Rosa is referring to the “accomplishments” of the PNP on the war on drugs, which is currently under "preliminary examination" by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor.

Kahit papaano, malaki-laki na din ang na-accomplish natin sa war on drugs—1.3 million na nag-surrender, 120,000-plus na nahuli, at marami na ring namatay, yung aking pulis din marami na din namatay, marami na din nagbagong buhay, marami na din shabu laboratories na na-dismantle,” said Dela Rosa.

(We have achieved a lot – 1.3 million have surrendered, 120,000-plus arrested, a big number killed. Some of my policemen were also killed, some have changed their lives for the better. We have also dismantled a lot of shabu laboratories.) 

Until his last breath

Back in December, Duterte had already declared Deputy Director General Ramon Apolinario to replace Dela Rosa once he retires.

But with this indefinite extension, it is unclear whether or not Apolinario's assumption will push through, although Dela Rosa vouches for his supposed predecessor’s capabilities.

Kung ako ang tanungin,  (If you will ask me) I have enough trust and confidence to the officers who are supposed to take over my post,” Dela Rosa said.

Kilala ko sila. Magagaling yan, kayang kaya nilang gawin yung aking ginagawa ngayon. But, iba yung view ko, iba yung view ng presidente. Sa tingin ng presidente, kailangan niya pa ako,” he added.

(I know them. They are all good. They can implement whatever I am doing now. But that's my view. The president has his own view. The president thinks he still needs me.)

Duterte and Dela Rosa’s relationship go way back in Davao, where the latter served as the city’s police chief. Dela Rosa has also repeatedly expressed his endless gratitude to the president, even claiming that he would serve him “until his last breath.”

“I am sad for those who are very eager na pumalit sa akin. Ako din naman very eager na to exit at magrelax sana. But, yun nga, inextend ng presidente--hindi ako puwedeng humindi,” he said.

(There are those very eager to replace me. I too am eager to exit and relax. But it was the president who wants me extended. I cannot refuse.)

“As i have said, I am willing to serve under him up to my last breath. Hindi ako aayaw, hanggat kinakailangan niya ako. (I will not leave him, as long as he needs me.)”

Dela Rosa said he is counting on the professionalism of his fellow police officers to respect the president’s decision.

Alam naman nila na hindi ko ito kagustuhan, kagustuhan ito ng presidente. (I did not ask for this, it is the president's decision.) Becoming a chief PNP is a destiny, and the prerogative of the president.”

Previously, Duterte had expressed his intention to put Dela Rosa under the Bureau of Corrections. But for now, “the drug lords can still feast,” Dela Rosa said, pertaining to the drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison.

Meanwhile, National Police Commission (Napolcom) Vice Chairman Rogelio Casurao said Wednesday, February 21, that the term of PNP chief can be extended "up until the time the President wants him to serve." 

Previously, past presidents only gave one-year extensions for their choice of PNP chief. – Rappler.com