ANCHORS AWAY. The PNP chief describes to media his first year in office. Rappler photo
MANILA, Philippines – If his boss, President Rodrigo Duterte, compared his first year in office to a “rollercoaster ride,” the Philippines’ top cop likened his to another extreme ride.
“Anchors Away,” said Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa when asked to describe his first year in a press conference at Camp Crame on Monday, July 3.
“Yung sa akin, nakataas nang husto, pagbaba, ang baba-baba…parang hihigupin ‘yung bayag mo. Tapos akyat na naman until makaihi ka,” said the national police chief, as he demonstrated the pendulum motion of the popular Enchanted Kingdom ride.
(For me, it’s like when you’re on top you’re really on top. But when you’re down, you’re really down. Like your balls are being sucked in. Then you go up again.)
Dela Rosa was appointed the country’s top police officer on July 1, 2016, mere hours after Duterte officially began his term on June 20, 2016.
The police director general (4-star police general) then was a chief superintendent (1-star police general) when Duterte picked him to head the 170,000-strong police force. Dela Rosa was born near Davao City and spent most of his career in the area.
He was once Davao City Police Office chief for a year or so while Duterte was city mayor. (READ: Duterte’s ‘Bato’: Who is Ronald dela Rosa?)
Dela Rosa, a popular figure, has led the PNP in implementing Duterte’s popular but controversial war on drugs. While the campaign has its supporters, police have also been criticized for alleged summary executions and human rights abuses in the name of the drug war.
Over a million “drug personalities” – suspected pushers and users – have “surrendered” as a result of the PNP’s Oplan Tokhang.
“’Pag lumabas ako, tuwang-tuwa akong makakita ng tao na nagpapasalamat sa akin. Kahit nasa abroad, nagpapasalamat mga tao, high na high ka. Pagdating mo sa Crame, meron palang pinatay na Koreano sa Crame, parang wang! Bababa ka, gusto mo nang mag-resign,” added Dela Rosa.
(When I go out and people approach to say "thank you," it makes me happy. Even when I’m abroad, people thank me, so it gives you a high. But when return to Crame, you find out a Korean was killed inside, and it’s like, wang! You plunge really low, and you want to resign.)
He was referring to Jee Ick Joo, a Korean businessman who had been abducted and later killed by police inside Camp Crame. The same cops have since been dismissed from service, according to Dela Rosa. Although the crime happened in October 2016, it was only in January 2017 that the case blew up in public.
Various groups and individuals called on Dela Rosa to resign. On his birthday in January, he offered his resignation, but Duterte declined. He offered his resignation one more time, but again the President declined.
“Hindi naman p’wede na parati kang nasa taas kasi mawawala ng thrill ang ride ko,” the PNP chief quipped. (You can’t be on the top all the time because the thrill of the ride would be gone.)
Despite the hiccups of the past year, Dela Rosa says the police are “winning the war,” a statement he also made 6 months into the drug war.
“Hindi sa nagmamayabang ako, but after one year I can really feel ‘yung sincere na mga tao sa kalsada. Sabi talaga ng lahat, safe na sila ngayon,” he said. (I don’t want to brag, but after one year, I can really feel sincere people in the streets saying they’re safer now.)
“Public opinion” and the past year’s 27% drop in crime volume, said Dela Rosa, were clear indications that the PNP was doing its job right.
In an April 2017 survey, majority of Filipino respondents said they were satisfied with the drug war. At the same time, however, many of those surveyed said they feared they or people they knew would be victims of extrajudicial killings.
People were also split on whether police were telling the truth when they said slain drug suspects “fought back (nanlaban).”
The war on drugs was among Duterte’s key campaign promises during the 2016 elections. It initially had a 6 month deadline but has since been extended until the end of his term in 2022.
Dela Rosa is set to retire in January 2018. – Rappler.com