MANILA - Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday urged the Philippine National Police to suspend its war on drugs as they scramble to weed out rogue cops who use the campaign to mask their nefarious activities.
At a Senate hearing, Hontiveros told PNP chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa that pending an internal cleansing of the police force, the anti-narcotics crackdown could bring more "terrible consequences" like the deaths of thousands of drug suspects and the murder of South Korean trader Jee Ick Joo.
Several policemen from a special anti-drugs unit allegedly abducted Jee on fabricated drug charges and strangled him to death inside Camp Crame before demanding millions of pesos in ransom from his wife.
"Para kasing itong pagkamatay nitong si Mr. Jee at iyung 7,000 plus na pagkamatay ng mismong mga kababayan natin, nagiging talaga siyang parang teribleng consequence ng war on drugs at ng Oplan Tokhang," Hontiveros said.
"Hindi pa parang panahon na habang hindi pa muna natin nalilinis ang hanay natin, habang hindi pa ulit nahihigpitan iyang internal cleansing na iyan, tigilan na muna itong estilo ng war on drugs para hindi madagdagan itong libo-libong Pilipino at ngayon, pati mga dayuhan, na napapatay sa gitna nitong kampanyang ito."
(The death of Mr. Jee and over 7,000 of our countrymen have become terrible consequences of the war on drugs and the Oplan Tokhang. Shouldn't we temporarily stop the current style of the war on drugs while the PNP has yet to clean its ranks and ramp up its internal cleansing, so that we can a put a stop to the rising death toll of Filipinos, and now even foreigners, amid this campaign?)
Dela Rosa said he cannot stop the drug fight, but promised instead to put priority in cleansing the 165,000-strong PNP.
"I think hindi po pwedeng ipapahinto, your honor. Iyung estilo, your honor, [pwede]. Sabi ko nga kanina, one step higher dapat iyung aming efforts sa internal cleansing compared sa aming efforts sa war on drugs," he said.
"Nasasayang itong efforts namin sa war on drugs dahil dito sumasakay itong mga sindikatong pulis."
(I don't think we can stop it, you honor. We can change the style. As I've said, we should take our internal cleansing efforts a step higher that our war on drug efforts. Our anti drug-efforts are being put into waste by criminal-minded cops who are abusing it.)
'NOT ALL COPS ARE LIKE STA. ISABEL'
But dela Rosa also clarified that not all cops share the same mentality as Ricky Sta. Isabel and other suspects in Jee's killing.
"Gusto ko pong i-correct na iyung iba pong pulis na involved sa 2,000 plus na killed in police operations, hindi po lahat iyun ay may mentality na kagaya ng mentality ni Sta. Isabel," he said.
(I want to clarify that those involved in 2,000 deaths recorded in police operations, not all of them have the same mentality like Sta. Isabel's.)
Hontiveros said she is not lumping all cops as corruption-tainted, but was merely pointing out that it is difficult to wage war on drugs while disciplining cops at the same time.
Conceding, Dela Rosa said: "I will seriously consider your appeal, your honor."
Watch a live streaming of the hearing here: