THE NEW chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday rolled out the anti-crime campaign of the Duterte administration with an ultimatum to policemen involved in illegal drugs: Surrender in 48 hours or fight a “war” against the government.
Chief Supt. Ronaldo “Bato” de la Rosa officially rose to the rank of Director General, taking over the top position in the 160,000-strong PNP.
“Either you are with me or you are not with me. If you are with me, then let’s do it, but if you are not with me, then you are finished,” de la Rosa said in his speech at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
“Voluntarily surrender to me and tell me everything or go absent without leave at mag-fulltime drug lord at makipag-giyera sa amin [become fulltime drug lords and fight a war with us],” he said in his speech.
“This has to stop right now or I will stop you from enjoying your evil life,” de la Rosa said.
Drawing from Duterte’s campaign slogan, he added, “change is coming” for erring policemen, “including your birthday which will be changed to November 2,” referring to All Souls’ Day.
Crushing drug syndicates is key pledge of Duterte, whose victorious campaign highlighted rampant criminality abetted by corrupt law enforcement.
According to the Dangerous Drugs Board, 1.3 million Filipinos are hooked on drugs, or one out of every 100 people.
President Rodrigo Duterte swore in his handpicked PNP chief, administering the oath in English with de la Rosa responding in Filipino.
“Congratulations, Bato,” Duterte told de la Rosa after swearing him in.
Assisted by the new PNP chief’s family, Duterte placed the epaulets and cap of de la Rosa’s new rank, equivalent to a four-star general of the military.
Later in the day de la Rosa, ordered a reshuffle of all police officials in the PNP directorate and regional offices.
While de la Rosa began his speech cracking jokes, he later turned serious, vowing to be “relentless in our internal cleansing efforts.”
The new PNP chief warned policemen who extort money and engage in other abuses of authority that their days were numbered.
De la Rosa zoomed in on Metro Manila policemen, who, he said, “boast” of being “ninjas” who “recycle” and sell drugs recovered from police raids.
De la Rosa admitted that the task of reducing “to the lowest possible level” the country’s drug, crime and corruption problems was “daunting” but declared he was “not cowed” and was “optimistic that we can win this fight.”
He asked the public to “be our prayer warriors” and “pray for our victory.”