'Bato' admits not having much political experience, offers 'clean heart'

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 12 2019 02:10 PM | Updated as of Feb 12 2019 02:32 PM

Senatorial candidate Ronald Dela Rosa gives a speech during the Hugpong ng Pagbabago campaign launch in Pampanga on February 12, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Former police and corrections bureau chief Ronald dela Rosa on Tuesday chose to be straightforward as he launched his campaign in the senatorial race.

Dela Rosa, who was among President Rodrigo Duterte’s most trusted men after serving as Davao City police chief, admitted he does not have a wealth of experience in navigating Philippine politics, but that he can offer his “clean heart.”

“Ako si Bato, tumatakbo sa pagka-senador. Wala akong maipagmayabang sa inyo, wala akong kayamanan, wala akong experiensiya sa pulitika. Pulis lang ako,” Dela Rosa said in his speech at the launch of the slate of administration coalition Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

“I come with a clean heart. Malinis ang puso ko. Kahit na buksan niyo pa ito.”

(I am Bato, running for senator. I have nothing to boast of. I am not rich. I am not that experienced in politics. I’m just a policeman. I come with a clean heart. You can even open it.)

Dela Rosa, as the first police chief under Duterte, fired the opening salvo in the government’s controversial war on drugs, resulting in thousands of deaths.

Though critics and opposition slammed Dela Rosa for the mounting drug war killings - both by the police and suspected vigilantes - supporters were still endeared by the then police chief’s charisma and jovial nature.

He has many times defended the war on drugs and supported the restoration of death penalty for big-time drug traffickers, as well as the lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility.

While his support for the lowering of the minimum age of criminal liability attracts criticism from rights groups, Dela Rosa believes it is actually for the benefit of the youth.

“Kayong mga kabataan (to the youth), you are the reason why Duterte declared war on drugs. He wanted to save the future,” Dela Rosa said.

“Ang pinaglalaban ni Bato hindi pagkain o edukasyon, kung ‘di buhay ng kabataang Pilipino na nasisira ang kinabukasan dahil sa ilegal na droga.”

(I am not fighting for food or education. I’m fighting for the lives of young Filipinos who are ruined by illegal drugs.)