DEAR General De la Rosa,
I couldn’t sleep last night.
I can’t get over how members of the Philippine National Police conspired to abduct, kill and profit from the murder of a South Korean businessman.
It hurts like hell, and I don’t even know the guy.
When Jee Ick-joo and his family decided to relocate to the Philippines, it was a decision based on a combination of trust and instinct. Trust, that our society would protect them. Instinct, that they would be treated well in the same way that thousands of Filipino workers in South Korea have remained safe and somehow progressive.
Somehow, this foreigner got entangled with our men in uniform who abducted him. Then killed him. And within hours, demanded ransom from the frantic wife. Money changed hands, right? Based on news reports, $100,000 in ransom was paid.
Had this happened to an OFW in South Korea, we would be up in arms. There would be rallies in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs calling out for justice. But, see, this would never happen in South Korea–not with their police force. It happened here. And you chose to watch a Bryan Adams concert in the midst of it.
I don’t personally know you but I have seen you perform your duties, before Senate and House hearings, while in the company of your peers, and in a hundred and one media events and interviews. You are very visible. Somehow, that makes you fair game.
But I have no wish to bring this to the dungeon of political propaganda. I just want to let you know that while I wish you well, and have no personal agenda for or against you, this particular crime, as well as previous shenanigans committed by our men in uniform, destroys the moral and social fabric of our nation.
No song of Bryan Adams can make up for our sleepless nights. I apologize for that dig. However, if you feel a sense of entitlement because you never had such opportunities due to poverty, let me assure you that character shines the most when it’s hardest to say no.
Back to sleepless nights.
What kind of person would wake up in the morning, put on his uniform and his badge, then proceed to kidnap a Korean businessman, and strangle him to death inside the Philippine National Police headquarters?
Can you imagine that policeman eating a snack or perhaps sipping coffee, lighting a cigarette, doing normal things after strangling his kidnapped victim? Or, just walking around inside the high walls of Camp Crame, with a deep, dark secret tagging along. Inside Camp Crame, where people go to seek help in getting criminals off the streets. What irony there!
General Bato, I do have some questions for you. Let this be my own version of a freedom of information request.
Do you want the PNP to be respected or for you to be esteemed? Sometimes, these can be two divergent paths. Why do I instinctively feel that the latter seems to be the dominant one? I know that you are a humble and kind man. Be in it for the long haul. We would like nothing better than to love you, but we need to trust your institution more.
What is your vision for the PNP? It is an institution beset with big- league problems while catering to a constituency of more than 100 million citizens. Yours is a herculean task. How can we help the PNP? Where is the roadmap? Please do not point to the President. He already did his part by appointing you.
When you admitted before the media that this crime involving Jee Ick-joo affected you, too, the word you used was “natutunaw” (melting). Did you melt out of anger? Did you melt out of sheer embarrassment? Did you address all your commanders right after to make sure that they understood how such impunity and corruption and sheer evil must stop? If you didn’t, can you do that now? In front of all of us, if not the world?
It’s frightening that the war against drugs must be fought not just on the streets but also within your ranks. Can you hack it? Can you tell your seniors, side with the people or be gone? President Duterte needs you to be able to do that.
I know that your heart is in the right place. However, a little sensitivity would go a long way. Your men and women are licensed to have arms. So many of them are courageous, competent and decent people, and for that we are thankful. Then, you have the scalawags. They taint the country with the darkest hues. They have secrets too deep and dangerous to reveal. The impunity of killing comes with keeping those secrets safe. Amidst the rivalry between good and evil within the PNP, I implore you to keep us safe, and for justice and human rights to be the bedrocks of our society.
God bless you, General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa.