MANILA - Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald 'Bato' dela Rosa on Friday belied a Reuters report which says that cops use hospitals to cover up drug killings, bewailing that the international news agency was finding fault in the police organization.
"Tanungin ko ang Reuters: Anong gusto niyo? Pabayaan na lang naming mamatay yung nabaril na tao? Ayaw niyong i-rescue namin yung buhay, i-save naming yung buhay at dalhin sa ospital?," he told ANC's Top Story.
(I ask Reuters: What do you want us to do? Leave the person to die? You don't want us to rescue the living, save that person and bring him to the hospital?)
"Damned if you, damned if you don’t ang PNP eh. Hinahanapan talaga kami ng Reuters ng atraso," he added.
(The PNP is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. Reuters is really looking for fault.)
"Kung hindi dinala sa ospital, talagang may intention ang pulis na patayin kaya pinabayaang mamatay. Pag dinala mo naman sa ospital, ina-accuse ka naman na nagco-cover up ka. Saan kami pupunta ngayon?"
(If we do not bring the suspect to the hospital, there is intention to kill, that's why we left him to die. If we bring him to the hospital, we'll be accused of covering up. Where do we go now?)
A Reuters investigation of police reports covering the first 8 months of President Rodrigo Duterte's war against drugs found that many of those who ended up in hospitals may have already been dead, possibly part of an attempt by police to cover up the killings.
Citing a police commander in Manila, Reuters reported that some policemen began sending slain or wounded drug suspects to hospitals late last year, in effect cleaning up the crime scene so that there would be no proof that they executed these drug suspects.
But, Dela Rosa stressed, it is part of police operational procedure to bring any casualty--fatally wounded or not--to the hospital because they cannot by themselves declare that person dead.
"Who are we, who are the policemen to say that they are dead? They are not medical practitioners," he said.
"Siguro kung nakita yan ng pulis na putol na yung ulo, sabog na yung utak, klaro na talaga na patay na, so tawag ka ng SOCO [Scene of the Crime Operatives] para paimbestigahan. Pero kung yung humihinga pa, yung dugo nag-u-ooze pa, lumalabas pa sa katawan, by all means you have to save lives," he added.
(Maybe if the cop saw the suspect beheaded, with brains shot out, it would be clear that he is dead, so he will call for the SOCO to investigate. But if the suspect is still breathing, with blood still oozing out of him, by all means you have to save lives.)
He also pointed out that crime scenes may be investigated without the body of the victim.
"Wag nilalagyan ng malisya yung ginagawa ng pulis. Nandyan naman yung crime scene kahit nawala yung dead body. Nandyan naman ang SOCO."
(They should not put malice on what the police did. The crime scene is there even without the dead body. The SOCO is there anyway.)
Duterte's anti-narcotics campaign has garnered international attention due to loss of lives and alleged extra-judicial killings. Official data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency put the number of drug suspects killed in government's anti-drug operations at 3,151.
And, out of 9,432 homicide cases from July 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, a total of 1,847 cases or 19% were found to be drug-related. A total of 5,691 cases or 60% were still under investigation.