UN probers need Duterte clearance for drug war documents – Dela Rosa

Rambo Talabong

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UN probers need Duterte clearance for drug war documents – Dela Rosa
(UPDATED) Seeking the President's nod before sharing drug war documents is not new in the PNP under Director General Ronald dela Rosa

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In any investigation into the Philippines’ war on drugs, everything must go through President Rodrigo Duterte.

This was announced by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa on Monday, March 5, in a briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

“My discretion is to refer to the commander in chief. Sabihin ko lang, ‘Sir ano, bigyan ko ba ‘to o hindi?’ (I’ll tell him, ‘Sir, do I give it to them or not?) Ultimately, the buck stops [with] the President,” Dela Rosa said, referring to drug war documents.

The PNP recently said that the first month under its relaunched Oplan Tokhang was “bloodless.” The anti-drug campaign has been under fire here and abroad after thousands of deaths, both from police operations and vigilante-style killings.

The PNP’s contradictory statements: Dela Rosa’s latest statement, however, contradicts what PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao said earlier when he clarified Duterte’s statement that police should “ignore” drug war investigators from the United Nations (UN).

“The PNP follows a protocol on releasing information involving national security. So any request from international or local organizations must go through the process or proper channels,” Bulalacao said last Friday, March 2.

He also said the clearance would only reach as high as the interior and local government secretary, and not Duterte himself.

But Bulalacao changed his tune after being sought for clarification on Monday, saying that the PNP will indeed “seek the guidance of the President” if UN probers come to them asking for documents.

Throwback: Waiting for the President’s nod is not new under Dela Rosa’s PNP.

Police previously refused to share drug war documents with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) following Duterte’s orders.

But after a closed-door meeting with the CHR, the PNP agreed to open up its folders, as long as the CHR follows clearance processes. – Rappler.com

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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.