MANILA - Malacañang on Friday defended Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa from critics after the neophyte lawmaker dismissed as a mere accident the death of a 3-year-old girl in a buy-bust operation in Rodriguez, Rizal earlier this week.
Dela Rosa, a former police chief who once led the government's drug war, drew flak after saying “s**t happens” when asked to comment on Myka Ulpina’s death during a sting operation last June 30.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Dela Rosa’s response was only an expression and that the lawmaker did not mean to offend anyone.
“Ang ibig niya lang sabihin accidents do happen. Sino ba ang gustong may mamamatay na bata?” Panelo told reporters.
(He only meant that accidents do happen. Who wants a child to die anyway?)
“Expression lang yun ni Sen. Bato kasi when you say s**t di ba [may] masamang nangyari?” he said.
(That is only an expression of Sen. Bato because when you say s**t, it means something bad happened)
The toddler’s father Renato Ulpina and another companion were killed in the operation, along with undercover officer Police Senior Master Sgt. Conrad Cabigao.
Police said Renato had used his daughter as a human shield amid gunshots, but the child's mother denied this, saying they were sleeping when the incident happened.
While the Palace is saddened over the child’s death, Panelo said the death of a policeman in the incident shows that the subjects of the operation fought back against authorities.
“We’re very sad that a 3-year-old passed away. Parang naging collateral damage ang dating niya and yet may patay na pulis. How would you explain na may patay na pulis? Ibig sabihin nanlalaban talaga, caught in the crossfire 'yung bata,” Panelo said.
(It seems that the child became collateral damage and yet a policeman died. How would you explain the death of the policeman? It only means that the suspects fought back and the child was caught in the crossfire.)
The Philippine National Police has relieved the entire roster of the Rodriguez police force in light of the incident.
An internal investigation is also underway to determine whether operatives violated procedure in engaging armed suspects and if there is truth to their claim that the 3-year-old was used as a shield by her father.
The Commission on Human Rights has also launched an investigation into the child's death.