MANILA - The head of the Philippine National Police on Monday slammed Catholic leaders for criticizing a plan for anti-narcotics officers to carry the Bible and rosaries as they knock on the homes of drug suspects.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines' (CBCP) over the weekend said bringing such items to drug operations under Oplan Tokhang would be mere "theatrics".
PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said the remarks were the harshest he has received from the Catholic Church.
“Please tell them you don’t have the monopoly of the Catholic religion. Hindi porke’t kayo ang mga obispo, kayo ang mga pari, kayo lang may karapatang maghawak ng Bibliya at magdala ng rosaryo,” Dela Rosa said during a press briefing.
(Just because you are bishops, you are priests, means that you alone have the right to carry the Bible and rosaries.)
“Porke pulis lang kami, hindi kami karapat-dapat? Wow! Kayo lang ang banal? Porke kayo ang pari, kami makasalanan na?” he added.
(Because we're policemen, does that mean we are unworthy? Wow! Are you the only ones who are holy? You are the priests and we are the sinners, is that it?)
The country's top cop also accused the CBCP of "trying to alienate" policemen instead of strengthening the faith.
The PNP relaunched Oplan Tokhang last week after a near 4-month hiatus prompted by allegations of irregularity.
Under the new Tokhang guidelines, police who go from house to house seeking suspects' surrender can only do so during office hours. Should the suspect refuse to surrender, he or she will be referred to a separate police team for case build-up.
The rule of law will "always prevail" in all anti-narcotics efforts, but the results will depend on the reaction of suspects, Dela Rosa had said.
"Alangan namang pabayaan namin ang mga sarili namin na mamatay kami kung armado at makipagbarilan ang drug personalities?" he said.
(Will we allow ourselves to be killed if drug personalities are armed and engage us in a gun fight?)