MANILA – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Ronald ''Bato'' dela Rosa stood by his men Tuesday, saying policemen are merely carrying out their duty amid a spate in drug-related killings.
Dela Rosa, in a Senate probe on extrajudicial killings, said at least 756 suspects have been killed by the police for supposedly "resisting arrest" and cops are presumed to have performed their duty in a regular manner.
''Unless proven otherwise and if there is a controverting (evidence), I presume that my men are performing their duties regularly,'' Dela Rosa said a Senate inquiry.
''We should consider that we are fighting people who are abnormal. Ang utak nila ay apektado na sa droga. They can do bizarre things at any time. Kaming mga puilis, kapag kami pumasok maniguro talaga kami," Dela Rosa said.
(''We should consider that we are fighting people who are abnormal. Their minds are already affected by illegal drugs. They can do bizarre things at any time. We always ensure our safety when we do our operations.)
He, however, maintained that there was no declared policy to kill drug users and pushers.
Doubts have been cast over whether all suspects being killed in legitimate police operations indeed resisted arrest. Human rights advocates and administration critics are saying that President Rodrigo Duterte's determination to rid the country of the drug scourge has come at the expense of respect for human rights and due process.
Senator Leila de Lima, a staunch Duterte critic, quizzed Dela Rosa whether there are concrete forensic reports proving that the slain suspects indeed resisted arrest.
''Are you telling us you're putting on record that all of these 756 deaths have the same surrounding circumstance, nanlaban (resisted arrest)? Would the SOCO (Scene of the Crime Operative) reports confirm that?" de Lima asked dela Rosa, who answered in the affirmative.
Acting Deputy Inspector General Chief Supt. Leo Leuterio, who heads the PNP – Internal Affairs Service, said 569 of the 756 are currently under investigation.
He explained, the rest of the cases are not being investigated yet due to IAS's lack of manpower.
Dela Rosa explained that in cases where a suspect dies during a police operation, the IAS automatically comes in to investigate.