Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa may now be chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) but he sure knows how to look back, as he sought the advice of his former boss in the PNP, Senator Panfilo Lacson.
When Lacson was PNP chief from 1999 to 2001 and head of the now defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), Dela Rosa was his commander for Task Group Mindanao.
The returning senator described Dela Rosa as someone “serious” and “quiet” that’s why it was a surprise for him to see the funny side of his former subordinate.
“He was serious, always quiet, rustic, always focused on his job. Nagugulat nga ako ngayon na marunong palang mag-kenkoy (I'm now surprised that he knows how to joke around),” Lacson said in an interview on Thursday, July 7.
He recalled it was Dela Rosa who sought a meeting with him in May. (READ: When 'Bato' met the 'kotong-buster')
What advice did the senator give him? Lacson said it was something plain and "simple."
“Nag-invite siya kung puwede makipagkita, because he wanted to seek my advice kasi na-appoint siya. Simple ang advice ko sa kanya. Importante riyan, huwag ka masira sa pera, huwag ka masilaw sa pera kasi masisira programa mo,” he said.
(He invited and asked if we could meet because he wanted to seek my advice because he was appointed. My advice to him was simple. What's important there, I told him, don't be ruined by money, don't be tempted by money because it will destroy your program.)
During the meeting, Lacson said they talked about police officials involved in illegal drug trade. As early as the 2016 campaign period, Lacson said he already heard 2 of the 5 names through his men in the PAOCTF. (READ: Lacson: No reason to doubt Duterte claim on generals)
Since at the time Dela Rosa was already appointed PNP chief, Lacson shared the information relayed to him.
“Actually, because he used to work under that senior officer. Pinasa ko kay General Bato ito nang presumptive CPNP pa siya, nang nag-dinner kami. Sabi ko ipatawag mo si ano (former subordinate) dahil dati naming kasama sa PAOCTF noon. Meron siyang sinabi sa akin na kasi noon naghahanap sila, nagko-collate sila ng ebidensya against some police officers who could be involved as protectors or even as drug pushers themselves,” he said.
(Actually, because he used to work under that senior officer, I passed it on to General Bato when he was presumptvie chief of PNP, when we had dinner. I told him to call a former colleague (a former subordinate) from the PAOCTF. This person told me before that they were looking for, collating evidence against some police officers who could be involved as protectors or even as drug pushers themselves.)
Lacson recalled parts of their conversation:
“Ang whispers nagko-compare notes ang ibang officers doon according to him, ang usapan di na IG o illegal gambling kundi ID (illegal drugs). 'Magkano ang take mo sa area sa illegal drugs?' So talagang sabi ko, 'It has come to that?' Sabi niya, 'Oo Sir, nakaka-shock kaya kailangan meron kaming gawin.' Sabi ko 'dapat lang,'” Lacson added.
(There were whispers inside according to him (Dela Rosa) that some officers are comparing notes. The talk is no longer about illegal gambling but about illegal drugs. "How much do you get in this area for illegal drugs?" So I said, "Really, it has come to that?" He said, "Yes Sir, it is shocking that's why we really need to do something." I said, "It's just right.")
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, 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 email@example.com