Lacson: Concerts surprised me, but I can vouch for Dela Rosa’s integrity
Director General Ronald dela Rosa may be “very much different” from his days as a Chief Inspector under the now-defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) but Senator Panfilo Lacson says he “can still vouch” for the integrity of the man many know as "Bato".
“All of a sudden, he became kenkoy (a jokester). At the time he was very serious, he was humble. But I can still vouch for his integrity. I knew him back then. He was an honest policeman and he was very diligent,” said Lacson of Dela Rosa during a Rappler Talk interview with Rappler’s Maria Ressa.
Lacson added: “He was hardworking and he did things very quietly, not so much fanfare. That’s why I was surprised to see him watching concerts.”
Dela Rosa, President Rodrigo Duterte’s first and only choice to head the Philippine National Police (PNP), has been its chief since July 1, 2016. (READ: Duterte's 'Bato': Who is Ronald dela Rosa?)
He led the police force in a popular but controversial war on drugs – up until Duterte himself ordered a stop to all police anti-illegal drugs operations.
Duterte also ordered the dismantling of all Anti-Illegal Drug Group (AIDG) units all over the country, following news that several of its members orchestrated and executed the kidnap and murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo back in October 2016.
Amid news that Jee was killed inside Camp Crame, of all places, Dela Rosa was on the receiving end of criticism for his supposed lack of supervision.
The same week the Jee case made headlines, Dela Rosa was seen attending a concert, singing during a music festival against illegal drugs, and watching a premiere of a movie about elite police. Again, the criticism came.
But that wasn’t the first time Dela Rosa has been criticized for functions outside of his work as chief of the PNP.
In November last year, Dela Rosa flew to Las Vegas to watch Senator Manny Pacquiao fight. The trip drew even more flak when Dela Rosa himself admitted that the trip was paid for by Pacquiao himself.
The Ombudsman said it ordered a probe into Dela Rosa’s trip but thus far, no findings or reports on the investigation have been made public.
The Vegas trip drew even more attention because while Dela Rosa was abroad, police from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 killed alleged drug lord coddled Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr inside jail while serving a search warrant.
Police said Espinosa fought back, but that claim has been debunked by a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) probe.
“I told him if I were CPNP and I would be in Las Vegas and then some crisis is happening here, I would have gotten off my seat and take the first available flight back,” said Lacson.
Lacson and Dela Rosa go way back. When Lacson headed the PAOCTF, Dela Rosa was his task group commander in Mindanao.
Lacson has always been both supportive and critical of Dela Rosa. The senator admonished Dela Rosa during the Espinosa probe, even after the PNP chief shed tears over his frustration with rogue cops.
On Dela Rosa’s birthday, Lacson advised him to “think PNP 24/7” and to “shun work-unrelated activities.”
The Senator met with Dela Rosa months before he officially took on the PNP’s top spot. In their conversations then, Lacson emphasized the importance of “internal cleansing” in waging a war against illegal drugs.
It seems that advice wasn’t acted on right away, however.
Still, Lacson still has faith on his once-subordinate. “I am confident Dela Rosa will be able to deliver this time after the President just told him to, ‘Hey, halt and think a while. You proceed when you [have] reformed yourselves.” – Rappler.com
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