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Tearful ‘Bato’ bids police force goodbye

Updated

By Martin Sadongdong

Outgoing Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa couldn’t help but shed a tear as he delivered his final speech as head of the national police force during the traditional flag-raising ceremony Monday morning at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Dela Rosa, who is set to retire on April 19, expressed gratitude to his men and said that his 21 months of service as the country’s top cop has been a “roller coaster ride.”

“The last 21 months of the PNP was a roller coaster ride pero more on up, bihira ‘yung down. We fall down seven times but we get up eight times (The last 21 months of the PNP was a roller coaster ride but there are a lot of good times than the bad. We fall down seven times but we get up eight times),” he said.

In his final press briefing with the media, dela Rosa also presented the notable gains in the anti-illegal drugs campaign, specifically the Oplan High Value Target (HVT), since it was relaunched on December 5, 2017.

He said that up to April 13, 2018, the PNP has arrested 19,086 drug suspects while 207 were also killed in 12,032 anti-illegal drugs operations.

Under Oplan Tokhang, which was relaunched on January 29, 2018, a total of 8,081 surrenderees were recorded from 9,566 activities nationwide.

Dela Rosa said the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), headed by incoming PNP chief, Director Oscar Albayalde, topped the list of the best performing police regional offices with 3,620 operations conducted, resulting in 7,162 arrests.

The Calabarzon Police Regional Office (PRO-4A) came in at second with 1,837 operations and 2,998 arrests; followed by the Central Luzon (PRO-3) with 1,691 operations and 3,392 arrests; and Central Visayas (PRO-7) with 1,428 operations and 2,180 arrests.

Closer to people

Dela Rosa also said that he would be leaving the national police organization “closer” to the ordinary people.

“Kung paano ko pinalapit ang PNP sa ordinaryong mamamayan, iyan ang gusto kong maiwan na legacy. Ang ordinayong mamayan walang takot na lumapit kahit sa chief PNP, The highest of the PNP. Kung wala silang alinlangan na lumapit sa akin, what more sa mga patrolling police? (How I managed to get the PNP closer to ordinary citizens, that’s what I want to leave as a legacy. Ordinary citizens no longer fear to come to the chief PNP, the highest [ranking officer] of the PNP. If they have no hesitations to come to me, what more to the patrolling police?)” dela Rosa said.

“Hindi ko naman inaasahan na 100 percent ng mga Filipino ay hahanga at magtitiwala sa kanilang PNP dahil meron talagang may ayaw. Pero generally, naibalik yung respeto ng bayan (I don’t expect that 100 percent of the Filipinos will admire and trust the PNP because there are still who don’t want to. But generally, the respect of the public [to the PNP] returned,” he added.

Lowest, highest point

Asked what was the lowest point in his life as a PNP chief, dela Rosa recalled that it was when the South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo was slain right inside the national police headquarters at Camp Crame.

“It came to a point that I volunteered to resign from this post. I was at my lowest during that time,” he said.

Jee was allegedly abducted by members of the now-defunct PNP-Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on October 18, 2016 under the guise of Oplan Tokhang (knock and plead). On the same day, he was reportedly brought to Camp Crame where he was believed to have been strangled to death. His body was later cremated and his ashes flushed down to a toilet as the suspects tried to hide evidence.

The crime was not known until in January 2017, or three months later, when Jee’s wife asked for help from the media. It resulted to the PNP getting stripped of power to lead national government’s war on drugs.

He also remembered facing the senators during an inquiry while defending the PNP from accusations of state-sanctioned killings. He said he felt “defenseless” during those moments.

“Sunod na mas mababa yung humaharap ako sa Senate na defenseless, kaharap ‘yung mga senador na wala kang magawa kundi lamunin ng sama ng loob (Next is when I face the Senate defenseless, appearing before the senators where I couldn’t do anything as my anger got the best of me),” Dela Rosa said, refering to the time when he became a resource person during a Senate inquiry on the alleged extra judicial killings (EJKs) perpetrated by cops under the guise of Oplan Tokhang in September 2017.

This was a month after a string of teen killings in Caloocan City, including Kian Lloyd delos Santos, a 17-year-old young man; and Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19.

“Resource person ka lang doon, hindi mo sila pwede sagutin ng pabalabagbag dahil honorable persons sila. Kaya tiniis ko na lang. Those were my lowest points (You are just a resource person there, you are not allowed to answer them disrespectfully because they are honorable persons. I had to endure it. Those are my lowest points),” dela Rosa said.

The 56-year-old director general, on the other hand, said he takes pleasure when people would acknowledge him and the PNP’s efforts in the anti-illegal drugs, and this, he said, was when he was at his highest point as chief of the country’s police force.

“Kahit saan ako pumunta, nagkakagulo ang mga tao. Babae, lalaki, bata, matanda, mayaman at mahirap nagpapasalamat sayo lalo na sa ginagawa ng PNP sa war on drugs. Tapos gusto nila magpa-selfie (Wherever I went, the people were going nuts. Girls, boys, young ones, the old ones, the rich and poor were thanking you, especially the PNP’s efforts in the war on drugs. Then they will ask for a selfie),” he said in jest.

Retirement

Dela Rosa is set to retire on April 19 from an extended service and he will be leading the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) after a short vacation.

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