'Bato' questions 'timing' of Tondo drug raid killings report

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 28 2017 09:10 PM

A boy sits near the spot where Rolando Arellano Campo, Sherwin Bitas and Ronnie Cerbito were killed during a police drug operation captured on CCTV in Tondo, Manila. Reuters

Dela Rosa says he has yet to see Reuters report on Tondo raid.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa on Tuesday questioned the "timing" of the release of a Reuters report into the killings carried out by policemen in a drug raid last month in Manila's Tondo district.

The report came out as President Rodrigo Duterte considers bringing the PNP back at the helm of the anti-narcotics campaign, according to dela Rosa.

"Tinatiming nila, saka nila ilalabas yung mga ganung reports about the PNP, kung kelan ibabalik [sa drug war]. Ibig sabihin, yung mga kalaban natin ayaw tayo pabalikin sa war on drugs. Anong kinakatakutan nila? Di naman sila mga adik siguro," Dela Rosa claimed in an interview.

This is not the first time that Dela Rosa has raised the issue on controversial stories.

He had also questioned the "timing" of the release of drug war survey results, hearings on the "Davao Death Squad" issue, and the Commission on Human Rights' inspection of a "secret jail" in Manila.

The PNP chief appeared before the Supreme Court in Manila on Tuesday for the resumption of oral arguments on petitions against the government's drug war.

Dela Rosa, however, admitted he hasn't seen or read the report yet.

"Hindi ko pa nakikita. Ibig sabihin, kung ngayon lang lumabas, they've been preparing, researching... pinrepare nila nang husto at tina-timing nila yung oral arguments sa SC, atsaka nila pinalabas. Para ano pa," he alleged.

The Reuters report, published on Monday, showed chilling closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the police operation in Barangay 19, Tondo on October 11.

The report said three men were shot and injured by the policemen in Barangay 19, in what the police described as a legitimate operation wherein the suspects fought it out with them.

However, various closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera footage and eyewitness accounts suggest the three men were executed. An officer was also captured turning one of the CCTV cameras away from the scene.

Watch more in iWantv or TFC.tv

The videos showed the bodies of the victims identified as Rolando Campo, Sherwin Bitas, and Ronnie Cerbito being dragged out of a shanty about 25 minutes after 15 anti-illegal drug operatives arrived in the area.

Chief. Supt. Joel Coronel, chief of Manila Police District, stood by their earlier claim that the incident was a legitimate operation, wherein the three men resisted arrest, prompting the cops to shoot and kill them.

"Yung dun sa Reuters, it was a high risk police ops conducted in Tondo against three suspected drug traffickers reported to be armed and dangerous, precisely why our police operatives took the necessary precautions to secure the area while conducting the police ops," Coronel said.

"The operation was conducted with barangay officials and tanods themselves. So far, our reports indicate that we have observed all the rules in police operating procedures," he added.

Dela Rosa, meanwhile, lashed out at Reuters: "Kung gusto talaga ninyo palabasin, if you want the PNP to look bad, you can do it. You can really do it. If you want to present a very objective presentation, you can also do it. Kung gusto niyo maging biased in our favor, you can also do it. So, may choice sila."

The killing of the 3 drug suspects in Manila happened the day Duterte ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to lead the drug war.