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EDITORIAL: Crying chief

FOR the second time around, PNP National Director Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa shed tears before the Senate committee hearing if only to show how he would doggedly defend the policemen involved in the drug war. Thousands of lives of suspected drug dealers and users were smuffed off, including teenage students and children whom the current administration downplayed as “collateral damage.” Ironically, Dela Rosa, whose “Bato” nickname may mean hard to crack like a rock, easily breaks down when the integrity of the policemen is put in question. It first happened during the Senate hearing on the case of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa who was already incarcerated inside a prison cell when 24 members of the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Regional Office No. 8 served a search warrant in the wee hours and there and then shot and killed the hapless mayor and another prisoner inside the jail. As the result of the hearing, the senators found that the police officers committed murder when they killed Espinosa and Raul Yap, the other inmate. Murder charges were filed against Superintendents Marvin Wynn Marcos and Santi Noel Gaspang Matira, Chief Insp. Leo Daio Laraga, and, hold your breath, Senior Inspectors Deogracia Pedong Diaz and Fritz Bioco Blanco, Senior Police Officers 4 Juanito Ampado Duarte, Melvin Mendoza Caboyit and Eric Palattao Constantino, SPO2 Benjamin Layague Dacallos and Alphinor Milla Serrano, Jr., PO3 Johnny Abuda Ibanez, Norman Tiu Abellanosa and Lloyd Ortinez Ortiguesa, PO2 Niel Patrimonio Centino, PO1 Bernard Rodriguez Orpilla and Jerlan Sadia Cabiyaan, Cristal Jane Briones Gisma and Divine Grace Baclas Songalia, all assigned at CIDG Regional Office No. 8 in Port Area, Tacloban City; as well as Chief Insp. Calixto Cabardo Canillas Jr., Insp. Lucresito Adana Candelosas, SPO2 Antonio Romangca Docil, SPO1 Mark Christian Castillo Cadilo, PO2 John Ruel Baldevia Doculan and Jaime Pacuan Bacsal, all assigned at Regional Maritime Unit 8. For a while, these police officers were locked up since murder is a non-bailable offense. But because the Department of Justice degraded their cases to plain homicide, they were allowed to post bail and went back to their work under the blessings of President Duterte who seems to condone police officers involved in the drug war that the President himself believes cannot be solved under his term. The Duterte administration’s drug war once again grabbed the attention of the senators when 17-year-old student Kian Lloyd Delos Santos was killed, or murdered, by Caloocan police during the “One time, Big time” operation. But the police explanation that the teenager fired at the apprehending policemen that forced the latter to fire back sounded like a poor alibi because of the CCTV footage that showed that the victim was being dragged by the police before he was shot dead. It was not long that the death of Delos Santos outraged the cross-section of society which placed the police on the defensive side. After killing more than 80 persons in just two days, the following days showed the sudden cessation of the murderous police operations. While the outrage against the killing of Delos Santos somewhat simmered, Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, presided over the Senate hearing to ferret out the truth about Kian Lloyd’s killing. Meanwhile, another teenager, tagged as thief who held-up at gunpoint a taxi driver, was gunned down by Caloocan police. The victim was Carl Arnaiz, a student of the University of the Philippines who dropped out of school because of depression. It was during the hearing last Tuesday (Sept. 5) that Dela Rosa shamelessly cried again after Senator Risa Hontiveros made a remark that there is an apparent pattern in the spate of killings by the police as they raised the war against drugs and criminality. Denying there is a policy from the highest command to kill, the chief of the PNP broke down. It outrages the public more that while he may have gained the loyalty of the rank-and-file in the police force (whom he refers to as “my policemen”) by crying before a large crowd in the hearing to show how much he loves his men, Dela Rosa never shed a tear to the thousands killed without due process, many of them were believed to be innocent.

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