The killing of minors and other drug suspects during police operations is not a government policy, President Rodrigo Duterte maintained on Tuesday, hours after Philippine National Police chief Ronald de la Rosa broke down over allegations that the police has a policy to kill drug suspects.
“Do you think two killings, even if it’s illegal, would make a policy? Let’s say they were murdered [by the police], is that already a policy? Is that the baseline of a policy? That’s a silly question. Oh, why can’t you just say what is the policy of the police when confronting [criminals]?” Duterte said.
“That’s why the PNP chief cried. It is an insult to say that it is the policy of the police to kill. There are so many criminal minds,” the President added.
Dela Rosa cried during the Senate inquiry on the death of Kian delos Santos,17, and Carl Arnaiz, 19, who were both killed by Caloocan City policemen.
The President said criticisms on the war on drugs will not demoralize the ranks of the law enforcers.
“They will never be demoralized as long as I’m there. As long as it is in the performance of duty. It means to say that [if]your life is in danger, you have to save yourself,” Duterte said. “Now, if they have committed an excess of that duty, then they shall go to jail.”
De la Rosa broke down as he denied claims on the existence of a police policy to kill drug suspects.
“I am grieving for the majority of my men na nakataya ang buhay nila tapos i-accuse n’yo kami ng polisiya na ganun. Masakit. Masakit, your honor, (who are putting their lives at risk then you will accuse us of having such policy. This is painful, it’s painful your honor,” he told Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
But Hotiveros corrected de la Rosa, saying she was referring to someone higher than him who wants to turn the PNP into a killing machine.
“Mamatay man ako sa kinauupuan ko your honor wala kaming pinapairal na policy na malawakang pagpatay sa mga suspect (I could die in my chair this minute your honor there is no prevailing policy to kill drug suspect,)” de la Rosa said.
“Nandyan si lord nakikita niya alam niya. (God is there, He is watching, He knows). I’m willing to go back to Davao kung ma-prove mo yan your honor (if you could prove that your honor). You know me,” he added.
It was not the first time that de la Rosa turned emotional. In November last year, he also wept during the a Senate inquiry into the claim of drug kingpin Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. that police officials in Eastern Visayas received bribes.
The Senate committee on public order chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson also listened to the testimony of a witness who saw how police officers grabbed de los Santos.
The witness positively identified Police Officer 3 (PO3) Arnel Oares and PO1 Jeremias Pereda as the men who took de los Santos from his mini store on August 16.
MC told the committee that she was about to buy rice and cigarettes when she saw the two men dragging a person, who later turned out to be de los Santos.
With Jefferson Antiporda