LOOK: Trump flashes ‘thumbs up’ in photo-op with PH police chief

Bea Cupin
LOOK: Trump flashes ‘thumbs up’ in photo-op with PH police chief
The PNP chief, who was once the de facto head of President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial drug war, meets the US president

MANILA, Philippines – “When Ronald meets Donald.”

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa was all smiles as he posed beside United States President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits being held in Manila.

On his Facebook page, Dela Rosa posted about his meeting with the American president, teasing the public about their chit-chat.

“The rest of his statement is classified. Kayo na ang magdugtong (You fill in the blanks),” he said in a post.

The police chief did the “Duterte fist pump” while Trump, who had earlier been cautioned about using the gesture, flashed a thumbs-up instead – a hand gesture he usually does.

Dela Rosa did not say when the photos were taken but they were presumably snapped the same day Trump met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a bilateral meeting on November 13.

The PNP chief is among the key personalities in Duterte’s drug war. Police have been at the forefront of the drug war since it was launched in July 2016 up until they were ordered out of it by Duterte himself in October 2017. Police spearheaded efforts to catch top drug personalities, as well as programs to make alleged drug users and pushers “surrender”.

Along with this huge role came allegations that police resorted to extralegal means in the name of the anti-illegal drugs campaign. Dela Rosa has denied allegations of human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings by police.

During the bilateral meeting, Duterte and Trump “underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in their national programs to promote the welfare of all sectors, including the most vulnerable groups,” said a joint statement released by the two countries. (IN PHOTOS: Budding friendship between Trump and Duterte)

The two leaders did not directly mention human rights concerns in the context of the drug war. Instead, the two “discussed the ongoing campaign in the Philippines against criminality including illegal drugs.”

According to the joint statement, both the US and the Philippines would share best practices in “transparency in investigations.”

Following intense criticism and indignation over deaths of at least two teenage boys at the hands of policemen, Duterte ordered the police and other agencies out of the drug war.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is now the “sole agency” in his popular and controversial campaign against illegal drugs. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.