PATIENCE, apparently is not one of Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s, and by extension, Rodrigo Duterte’s stronger suits or enviable virtues.
Hardly had the President’s announcement in February that he was suspending his administration’s war on drugs given the targets of the crackdown some measure of relief, when his national police chief relaunched on Monday the reportedly much criticized, locally and internationally, Operation Plan (Oplan): Tokhang.
It is to be noted, however, that the flak from mainly human rights watchdogs and the US government over the anti-drug war had drawn their facts and figures from sources that had decided all along that Oplan: Tokhang was nothing more than a knock-and-plead killing machine from the very beginning.
It is just pointless, we believe, to argue with legal and moral guardians who had all but made up their minds about such war being exactly what they had pictured it to be, and next question, please.
This time, the operation against illegal-drug players dubbed Oplan: Double Barrel, Reloaded will be carried out by the newly created Drug Enforcement Group, instead of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group, which Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Dela Rosa had abolished.
The resurrection of Oplan: Tokhang had been premised on weeding the PNP of rogues in its ranks. Dela Rosa must have assumed that the cleansing of the force had been spectacularly successful less than 30 days after he stormed the castle of the allegedly corrupt men and women in uniform with a pitchfork.
Bato must have been so clinically efficient like Hannibal Lecter in that he was able to identify who among the 130,000-strong PNP have “GRAFT” written on their foreheads in so short a time.
Meanwhile, many of the 200 or so police officers accused of various kinds of wrongdoing, including corruption, have defied the President’s order for Dela Rosa to ship them out to Basilan in southern Philippines, as off-court punishment for their offenses to do battle with the Abu Sayyaf Group and other homegrown jihadists.
Earlier, we were made to believe that every movement of these undesirable police would be monitored every step of the way but, really, where are these people who had been supposedly slapped with criminal cases?
It would not be far-fetched that the deserters, in particular, could be thinking of also “relaunching” their aborted careers as kidnappers, hired guns, murderers, rapists.
If they are, then Dela Rosa would probably hit the ceiling even as he embarks with the latest operation plan, which seems to spell out the title of a gangster movie straight from the Dirty Harry hit list, when he says it would be different from its forerunner.
“Bato” has insisted that Oplan: Double Barrel, Reloaded is not Oplan: Tokhang in disguise.
For one, he clarified, it would be led by chiefs of police and barangay (village) chairmen, with a little help from priests or pastors.
With the police chiefs and the village authorities, Dela Rosa probably would have no problem, but tapping the religious would be difficult, the Catholic Church having earlier accused the PNP of sanctioning alleged extra-judicial killings under Oplan: Tokhang.
Dela Rosa has to be reminded of the separation of Church and State, no matter that he must be naively toying with the idea of dragging a priest or two from the pulpit and then teaching them how to reload and shoot.
Besides, the same day that he disclosed the start of Part 2 of the war on drugs was also the day that Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that schools run by the religious should be taxed by the government.
If it was not bad timing for Alvarez to broach the apparently uneducated suggestion, we don’t know what is.
Promptly, however, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III pointed out that the 1987 Constitution exempts the religious-owned schools from paying income taxes.
For another—and we also believe that this is potentially the deal breaker or game changer for De la Rosa—Oplan: Double Barrel, Reloaded will be entirely under his tutelage, with the President having said that he was leaving it to his top police official to do his thing the way he sees fit.
If Dela Rosa weathers the challenge, then he might live another day in his office but, if he does not, he could go the way of all flash like Peter Laviña and all others whom the President had trusted but who failed him in the end.