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‘Bato’ vows intensified drug war despite Senate probe

22Senate hearing  copy

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has vowed there would be no letup on the war against drugs even as allegations of police abuses and brutality became the highlight of the Senate’s first round of public hearings into purported extrajudicial killings and summary executions.

PNP Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said law enforcement agencies would not allow its anti-drug operations be hampered by the presence of “scalawags” within their ranks following the testimonies of the two witnesses Senator Leila De Lima produced yesterday, Aug. 22.

“Lalaban pa rin kami. We will continue! Tuloy pa rin!” Dela Rosa told reporters after the hearing.

But at the same time, the PNP chief promised they would not leave the anti-drug crusade in the dark as they are bent on prosecuting any uniformed personnel who would be found guilty of involvement in illegal drug operations.

“Our Internal Affairs Services (PNP-IAS) are not slowing down in finding evidences to ensure these erring policemen are indicted…We will go after them,” Dela Rosa told senators during the investigation.

ANTIPOLO COPS RELIEVED

To prove his sincerity, Dela Rosa ordered the policemen involved in the alleged killing of the parents of one of the witnesses whom she said admitted acted as “assets” by the Antipolo police.

“Effective today, I will relieve those people and put them under the administrative holding unit and will order the IAS to conduct an investigation on them,” Dela Rosa said in an interview.

“If it would be proven that all the policemen in Antipolo are involved, I will remove everyone, even the police commander,” he promised.

The involvement of some Antipolo police was revealed during the hearing after the second witness identified only as “Mary Rose” said she sought the help of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after learning both her father and mother were killed in an “encounter” with policemen.

According to Mary Rose, both her parents received a call on June 20 from a certain PO3 Torres and another police named “Rabe” and rushed to leave their house supposedly to remit the last of the money they earned from selling shabu or methamphetamine.

Mary Rose told Senate probers both her parents were already planning to surrender to the authorities in response to the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign. They failed to return home; their bodies were later found in separate places.

Her father’s cadaver was found in Morong, Rizal while her mother’s body was found in Barangay Puting Bato, in Antipolo.

But according to Mary Rose, they already found the bodies at a morgue, already cleaned up.

She said a certain police named “Gamad” was the one who informed her of her parents’ cadavers whereabouts.

She also mentioned a certain policeman named “Ong” were among those who transacted with their parents.

Pressed by De Lima to describe her parents’ role in the drug operations, she said they “repacked” illegal drugs policemen recover from drug raids and sell them at a price.

A tearful Mary Grace also confirmed her parents have been in the business for about a year and that around 30 to 40 policemen would frequent their house and even hold pot sessions at the second floor.

Since her parents’ death, Mary Grace said their family has left Antipolo and sought refuge together with her siblings – one suffering from epilepsy – with her uncle.

Asked why she did not report the incident to police, Mary Grace said: “Natatakot ako lumapit sa kanila, baka patayin na rin nila ako…Umalis na po kami doon, binuburol pa lang po (parents ko) umiikot-ikot na (sila sa bahay).”

The PNP Chief admitted, that based on the findings of police, while the death of Mary Grace’s father was accounted as resisting during police operation, her mother’s death is still “under investigation.”

“Ako mismo, naghahanap ako ng hustisya… I will not take this sitting down,” Dela Rosa told Sen. Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV.

Dela Rosa also said he is not at all surprised to hear some policemen are involved in the illegal drug trade.

He also said he is even grateful that Mary Grace testified about the involvement of Antipolo police.

“In fact, marami na tayong pulis na pinagtatanggal sa kanilang assignment. Tinapon natin sa Mindanao dahil nga, through intelligence report, nalaman natin na ganoon ang kanilang involvement sa drugs,” he said.

“Pero ito ngayon na meron talaga tayong witness, i-prosecute talaga natin ang pulis na ito, itong mga involved na ito,” the police chief added. (HANNAH L. TORREGOZA)

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