Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa dismissed claims that the rise of death toll in connection with the government’s campaign against illegal drugs are causing fear among the public.
During a Senate hearing on the controversial killing of a 17-year-old student Kian Loyd Delos Santos, the country’s top cop remarked that he continues to receive warm acceptance from the citizens.
“Hindi po ako nagjujustify pero gusto ko parating sa inyo na mali ‘yung impression niyo na lahat ng tao takot sa pulis (I’m not trying to justify but your impression that everyone is afraid of the police is wrong),” Dela Rosa said on Thursday, August 24.
The PNP chief made the remark in response to Senator Miguel Zubiri’s concern that the recent spate of drug deaths has been causing alarm among the public.
The senator cited surveys showing that nine out of 10 Filipinos fear that they may become victims of police abuses and extrajudicial killings.
Dela Rosa, however, allayed the Zubiri’s concern, arguing that if the senator’s statement is true, the public shouldn’t even show the PNP chief gestures of warm welcome.
“Kita ko ang acceptance ng tao sa akin. Hindi ako nagmamayabang pero kung galit sila sa war on drugs, sisigawan ako, ‘Ikaw, Bato! Ikaw pumapatay sa mga kasama namin dito!’ (I can feel people’s acceptance. I’m not trying to boast but if they were resentful towards the war on the drugs, they would yell at me, ‘You, Bato! You’ve been killing our companions!),” the PNP chief further remarked.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called drug war has been repeatedly condemned by human rights groups and several international communities. While the total figure is hotly disputed, the narcotics crackdown has brought thousands of deaths to “drug personalities.”
Earlier this month, the campaign reached its highest single-day death toll after 32 alleged drug offenders were killed at the province-wide “one time, big time” simultaneous bloody raids in Bulacan on August 16.
Grade 11 student Delos Santos was also killed during an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City after allegedly pulling a gun on police officers.
But contrary to police claims, CCTV footage showed that the student being dragged by the police to the spot where he was killed. Witnesses also gave statements supporting the footage, adding that the police gave Delos Santos a gun and told him to run.