MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa should just quit and not wait for President Duterte to decide on his fate, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said yesterday.
“If he loves the President, if he is loyal to him, he should be brave enough to take the bullet for him and spare the President from further embarrassment,” he said in radio interviews. It was Dela Rosa’s 55th birthday yesterday.
Alvarez was reacting to Dela Rosa’s statement that he would leave it up to Duterte to decide on his fate following the revelation that kidnapped South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo was murdered inside the PNP national headquarters at Camp Crame by his policemen captors led by Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta. Isabel.
Alvarez said he knows Duterte personally as someone who would willingly accept responsibility for any misconduct, inefficiency or wrongdoing of an underling. But instead of letting the President take the blame, Dela Rosa should just resign.
He said the PNP chief’s continued stay in office would affect the administration’s overall anti-crime campaign.
“If your men no longer respect you and even insult you by committing murder under your very nose, near your own office and your official residence, then you will no longer be effective as a leader,” Alvarez pointed out.
He noted the area where Jee was killed is just a few steps from Dela Rosa’s office and the so-called White House, his official residence.
The Speaker said he would discuss with other House leaders tomorrow whether to investigate Jee’s death.
As Alvarez racheted the pressure on Dela Rosa to quit, an opposition congressman said Duterte is liable for the South Korean businessman’s murder and other “tokhang for ransom” cases.
“President Duterte gave policemen blanket authority to do what they want in the name of his war on drugs. Without his orders -– no one would go to jail and pardon would await those who are prosecuted – this impunity by rogue police officers would have not happened,” Tom Villarin of Akbayan said.
“The grizzly murder of a South Korean national inside Camp Crame over a ‘tokhang for ransom’ modus operandi and the revelation of 11 other similar cases involving Chinese nationals show a pattern of abuse and blatant disregard of the law. All because of such policy,” he said.
He noted the report of Teresita Ang See of the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order that 11 Chinese nationals paid police officers huge sums of money in exchange for their not being arrested on trumped up drug charges.
Villarin said if Duterte’s policy of encouraging policemen to do as they please in the name of the administration’s anti-drug war continues, more policemen would be emboldened to engage in illegal activities.
He said even the resignation of Dela Rosa would not deter rogue cops from committing crimes.
Other congressmen have questioned the PNP chief’s sense of propriety for attending a concert while his command was still investigating Jee’s murder.
They also cited Dela Rosa’s statement that he saw nothing improper in his acceptance of free plane tickets, hotel accommodations and other favors from boxing champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
No need to quit
But Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III does not think Dela Rosa should resign for the kidnap-slay of Jee inside Camp Crame.
He stressed, however, that this does not mean that Dela Rosa is off the hook, as the PNP chief has a lot more problems on his plate that could lead to more calls for his resignation.
Speaking over dwIZ radio, Pimentel said the PNP was able to “solve” the case of Jee with the apprehension of a suspect and the release of a rather convincing narrative of events.
“But this doesn’t mean that I am that satisfied with the performance of Gen. Bato. There are still over 3,000 cases of unexplained killings that have yet to be solved,” Pimentel said.
“I am not expecting a 100 percent solution of the cases but it is not acceptable to have 100 percent unsolved cases,” he added.
To his knowledge, Pimentel said investigations into almost daily drug-related killings have not gone anywhere – with no suspect arrested or clear narrative of cases established.
For Pimentel, all of those killings were murders and as such should be taken seriously by Dela Rosa and his men.
“If I would call for his resignation, it would not be for the South Korean murder, it would be for these continuously growing cases of unexplained killings,” the Senate president said.
Pimentel said the PNP should pay close attention to these murders and not stop until it solves each and every one of the cases.
Instead of “partying” or being seen at concerts, Pimentel said Dela Rosa and his men should be burning the midnight oil – so to speak – to solve the murder cases.
Pimentel said he had called the attention of Dela Rosa to unsolved murders or what the PNP calls the deaths under investigation (DUI).
Instead of getting a commitment to solve the cases, Pimentel said that what he got from Dela Rosa were statistics on the DUIs.
“I told him to solve these cases and not to give me statistics only. They are placing these (cases) under the column of DUI, but what are the results of the investigations?” Pimentel said.
“I will choose an incident, a victim, give me the case folder and if they can’t produce it, that means they have been enjoying too much the perks of the position. There are many perks…invitations, so this is what’s happening, they are too busy with their social engagements that they are forgetting their professional obligations,” he added.
Sen. Leila de Lima, for her part, said Alvarez’s call for Dela Rosa’s resignation was simply part of the administration’s “need of a scapegoat for the scandal of a PNP force gone rogue.”
“A major responsibility for the spate of ‘tokhang for ransom’ incidents of course lies with Gen. Ronald dela Rosa. But this is only a part of the equation. Dela Rosa is only following the President’s orders to let loose a police force free from any accountability, especially for EJKs (extrajudicial killings) and other abuses committed in the name of his war on drugs,” De Lima said in a statement. – With Marvin Sy
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