Dela Rosa: Forgive us for drugs war deaths
(UPDATED) "Ipagdasal 'nyo kami na sana Lord, patawarin 'nyo kami sa nangyayari ngayon." (Pray for us that the Lord may forgive us for what's happening now.)
A week before Christmas, the country's top cop – the face of the institution leading a popular but bloody war on drugs – asked for prayers and forgiveness for the killings linked to the country's 6-month-long anti-narcotics campaign.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa was talking to police personnel and their family members at the National Headquarters (NHQ) Christmas party on Monday, December 19, when he made an off-the-cuff appeal in public.
Right before his speech, singer Basilyo sang "Lord Patawad" (literally, Lord, forgive me).
"Kung meron akong Christmas gift para sa lahat, meron din akong Christmas wish na manggagaling sa inyo. Ito lang aming wish, galing sa personnel ng PNP at ating mga pamilya. Narinig 'nyo 'yung kanta ni Basilyo? Lord, patawad? I would like to ask everyone, ang hinihingi kong gift sa iyo ay pagdasal 'nyo kami, ang inyong mahal sa buhay, ang inyong kapulisan, na sana patawarin kami ni Lord dahil dito sa mga namamatay sa war on drugs," Dela Rosa said.
(If I have a Christmas gift for all, I also have a Christmas wish addressed to you. This is our only wish, from the personnel of the PNP and our families. Did you hear Basilyo's song? Lord, patawad? I would like to ask everyone, the gift I'm asking from you if that you pray for us, including your loved ones, your police force. I hope the Lord will forgive us for the deaths because of the war on drugs.)
Since the war on drugs began on July 1, 2016, the PNP has tallied over 6,000 deaths with either direct or apparent links to the nationwide campaign.
Dela Rosa emphasized that of the 6,000, only over 2,000 were killed in police operations. The rest are what the PNP calls "deaths under investigation" or vigilante-style killings.
The police have long been accused of resorting to extrajudicial killings in the name of the war on drugs. It's an allegation Dela Rosa and the rest of the PNP have vehemently denied.
Dela Rosa said that although not all 6,000 deaths happened at the hands of police, he wanted prayers for the PNP anyway. A war on drugs was among President Rodrigo Duterte's key campaign promises during the 2016 elections.
At the same time, however, Dela Rosa insisted that the PNP will not stop its anti-illegal drugs campaign. "While I am begging for forgiveness for what is happening right now, I am also begging for your indulgence and please understand if the killings will continue. We will not stop our war on drugs," he later told reporters in a chance interview.
Dela Rosa even joked about asking forgiveness in advance for those who might still die in the future because of the war on drugs. "Puwede bang humingi ng advance na patawad sa Panginoon? Hindi naman puwede, 'di ba –– Lord forgive me for what I am going to do? 'Di naman siguro puwede 'di ba? Lord forgive us for what we have done. 'Yan siguro," he said.
(Can we ask for forgiveness ahead of time? We can't, right? Lord forgive me for what I am going to do? I don't think you can do that. Lord forgive us for what we have done. Maybe that's better.)
Dela Rosa insisted that the war on drugs – and all the police operations that happen because of it – will only end once the drug problem stops. "So long as the drug problem is there, there is no stopping us. We cannot guarantee you na walang mamamatay (that nobody else will die). Dahil (Because) for every action, there is a corresponding reaction. Kami po'y nag-re-react lang sa problema sa droga (We're only reacting to the problem of illegal drugs)." – Rappler.com
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