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‘Bato’ acts vs cops in alleged rubout

At the prodding of senators during a public hearing by the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee yesterday, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa placed several policemen under “restrictive custody’’ for the recent killing of Albuera (Leyte) Mayor Rolando Espinosa.

Dela Rosa made the move after he publicly cried when Sen. Francis Escudero pressed him to place these the bad eggs in the PNP under “restrictive custody’’ following testimonies tending to show that Espinosa was rubbed out by policemen receiving regular payola from Espinosa’s son, Kerwin, an alleged drug lord in Eastern Visayas.

Juan Miguel Zubiri also told his colleagues a gun found beside the body of Espinosa inside a Leyte sub-provincial jail in a supposed gun battle was recently surrendered by a friend to the police.

Zubiri earlier said the Espinosa killing was a clear case of a rubout as a search warrant for illegal possession of firearms was issued by a court but it was suspiciously served at about 4 a.m.

Dela Rosa said he carries a heavy load of responsibility when President Duterte named him as PNP chief to help him (Duterte) in his anti-crime, anti-illegal and anti-corruption campaigns.

He told senators that he has told his men that his subordinates helping him in the anti-illegal drug campaign should start enforcing their mandate with a clean slate.

Apparently helpless to control errant behavior of his men, Dela Rosa broke down.

“Yes sir, (I will place them under restrictive custody) right after this hearing…at Camp Crame,’’ Dela Rosa told Escudero.

When policemen do something unlawful with impunity, the PNP chief should do something, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, committee chairman, said.

Lacson, a former PNP chief from 1988 to 2001, said he had allowed minor infractions by his men when he was the PNP Director-General but a strong hand must be employed when the violation is “sobra na (grave.)’’

“May hangganan. There’s an elastic limit. May threshold di puwede larga larga lang tayo,’’ he told Dela Rosa.

Dela Rosa, who worked under the Lacson PNP leadership, conceded that Lacson’s style of leadership “is a tough act to follow.’’

“I know how you disciplined the men. I have difficulty following your standard. It is difficult to follow,’’ he added.

Crying after Lacson told him that there is an internal discipline to be imposed, Dela Rosa said he is not “Superman.’’ (Hannah Torregoza)