Amid controversy, Dela Rosa tells cops: ‘Tuloy ang laban’

Rambo Talabong

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Amid controversy, Dela Rosa tells cops: ‘Tuloy ang laban’
Top cop Ronald dela Rosa urges the police not to be demoralized by criticism over the death of Kian delos Santos

MANILA, Philippines – With cops under fire following the death of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos in an operation, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa urged his men to stand their ground in the war on drugs.

Dela Rosa said in a dzBB radio interview on Friday, August 25, that when he went to the Northern Police District (NPD) the same day, he shared an intimate moment with the police to boost their morale.

Ang sabi ko sa kanila, tuloy ang laban. Huwag tayong mademoralize, (I told them, the fight goes on. Let’s not get demoralized),” Dela Rosa said.

The PNP chief sought to boost morale as groups slammed the Duterte administration’s drug war over the death of Delos Santos, who was gunned down in a police operation in Caloocan City after he allegedly fought back. Caloocan police are under the NPD.

While police claimed regularity in the operation, CCTV footage, eyewitness accounts, and forensic reports indicate otherwise, fanning outrage. (READ: LIST: Minors, college students killed in Duterte’s drug war)

Kinausap ko sila na ‘wag silang manlambot, ‘wag silang madepress kung ang ibang tao ay ganoon ang treatment sa atin na palaging tayo na lang ang mali, palaging tayo na lang ang may kasalanan,” Dela Rosa said.

(I told them not to falter, not to be depressed if some people treat us as if we’re always wrong, we’re always at fault.)

He said he also reminded them that being criticized goes with the territory.

That’s part of our job na sisitahin at iki-criticize. ‘Yung isang pagkakamali ay lahat ng ginawa mong maganda ay nasisira na, nawawalan nang saysay (Being called out and criticized – that’s part of our job. One mistake will destroy all the good you’ve done; becomes meaningless),” Dela Rosa said.

According to Dela Rosa, his men “responded well” and were visibly happy with his call.

The PNP chief gave the pep talk as criticism over the high death toll  in recent anti-drug raids again drew strong condemnation, fanned by the death of Delos Santos who would be buried on Saturday, August 26. (READ: Except for killings, all crimes drop in Duterte’s 1st year)

In just 4 days, at least 81 were killed, adding to the casualty count of at least 3,500 drug suspects who died in anti-drug operations. Like in the case of Delos Santos, the police claimed that the drug suspects allegedly fought back.

Cops claimed that Delos Santos, a grade 11 student, was a drug courier, but later admitted in a Senate hearing that they only “confirmed” this after the operation, when they arrested an alleged drug pusher and through social media.

Delos Santos, who was not on any drug list, had tested negative in the police paraffin test for gunpowder traces.

The autopsy report of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and the PNP both conclude that Delos Santos was killed while kneeling with his face down, defenseless. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.