By Martin Sadongdong
“You don’t have the monopoly of the Roman Catholic religion.”
Such were the strong words uttered by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday after the latter remarked that cops who conduct “Oplan Tokhang” (knock and plead) operations need not bring Bibles and rosaries for it looks like mere “theatrics.”
Dela Rosa was asked during a press briefing yesterday at Camp Crame in Quezon City and he did not hold back his anger over the CBCP statements.
“Hindi porke’t kayo ang mga obispo, kayo ang mga pari, kayo lang ang may karapatang maghawak ng Bibliya at magsuot ng rosaryo. Kaming mga ordinaryong Katoliko porke’t pulis lang kami hindi na kami karapat-dapat? Wow (Just because you are bishops and priests, you have the exclusive right to hold Bibles and wear a rosary. We, ordinary Catholics, just because we’re policemen we’re not allowed [to do that]? Wow),” an exasperated Dela Rosa said.
According to Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of CBCP committee on public affairs, bringing Holy Bibles and rosaries to Tokhang operations would be mere “theatrics.” Instead, the CBCP official said the cops only have to follow the guidelines set by the PNP to ensure a bloodless campaign against illegal drugs.
The CBCP made the statement after members of the Eastern Police District (EPD) brought the religious items on the first day of the relaunch of Oplan Tokhang on January 29.
In an earlier television interview, Dela Rosa was asked with the same question and he responded that the cops only brought the religious items as an “add-on” to the guidelines issued by the PNP on the revived Oplan Tokhang.
He also said the cops only want to make the operation more appealing to the public.
However, Dela Rosa had a different approach on the subject when he was asked again, this time, not holding back his anger.
“Ang sama naman ng tingin niyong mga pari sa aming mga Katoliko. Instead na palakasin natin ang ating relihiyon you try to alienate us from you? Sinong masisisi niyo ngayon bakit maraming umaalis sa Roman Catholic religion? (You, priests, look at us Catholic [policemen] in a negative way. Instead of strengthening our religion, you try to alienate us from you? Who will you blame now that a lot of the faithful are leaving the Roman Catholic religion?” he asked.
According to the PNP, over 800 drug personalities have surrendered while there were no recorded casualties on the first week of Oplan Tokhang.