Senator Leila de Lima on Saturday said the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte appears to be looking for a scapegoat amid the scandal hanging over the PNP following the spate of alleged “tokhang for ransom” incidents.
De Lima hinted that PNP chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa could be that person.
The senator said Dela Rosa is only following Duterte’s orders “to let loose a police force free from any accountability, especially for EJKs (extrajudicial killings) and other abuses committed in the name of his war on drugs.”
“This is not the sole fault of its PNP chief, but mostly of his president who has transformed a once professional institution into nothing more than tokhang death squads engaged in tong shakedown rackets,” she said in a statement.
Dela Rosa is facing criticism and a spate of calls for his resignation as PNP chief following the abduction and killing of South Korean businessman Ick Joo Jee inside Camp Crame.
The PNP chief has said he is ready to resign if Duterte orders him to do so.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Friday joined calls for Dela Rosa's resignation "to save President Duterte from further embarrassment."
De Lima said: “A genuine recognition of the root of the problem should go beyond blaming Dela Rosa, and instead condemn the drug war policy that has produced human rights violators and criminals out of the men and women of the PNP.”
She added that kidnappings committed in the guise of the government's war against illegal drugs will not end any time soon, as long as the killings of drugs suspects are accepted and tolerated as legitimate police operations.
“A police force that is given the license to be judge, jury and executioner is not expected anymore to respect the rule of law or enforce the law. It will only continue to deteriorate and eventually cease to be the major law enforcement agency of the government,” she said.