Dela Rosa apologizes for 's**t happens' remark on toddler's death

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2019 08:59 AM | Updated as of Jul 08 2019 09:22 AM

Newly elected senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa speaks to the members of the media during a press conference at the Philippine Senate Building in Pasay City on July 04, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa apologized Monday for his remarks on the death of a 3-year-old girl in a buy-bust operation in Rodriguez, Rizal last week.

Dela Rosa, a former police chief who once led the government's drug war, drew flak after saying “sh*t happens” when asked to comment on Myka Ulpina’s death during a sting operation last June 30.

"I apologize to the family for the comment na nasabi ko. Mali pala 'yun. Dapat sa pang police-police na community lang 'yun na words, hindi for the general public dahil nga prone to be, mabigyan ng di magandang meaning," he told ANC's "Headstart."

(I apologize to the family for the comment that I made. It was wrong. Those words are for the police community only and not for the general public since it may be given another meaning.)

"Pasensya na po sa pamilya. Wala man may gusto na meron talagang mamamatay, masama man lalo na 'yung inosenteng tao, inosenteng bata, 3 years old. Napakasakit 'yun pag namatayan ka ng anak na ganun. Hindi talaga katanggap-tanggap na sitwasyon 'yun," he said.

(I apologize to the family. No one wants any person to die even criminals and especially innocent ones, innocent children like a 3-year-old kid. It's very painful to lose a child like that. This is really an unacceptable situation.)

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Police claimed that the toddler was used as a human shield by his father Renato Ulpina who was killed in the operation along with another companion and an undercover officer, Police Senior Master Sgt. Conrad Cabigao.

The 3-year-old's mother, however, denied the police's story, saying they were sleeping when the incident happened.

'UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT'

Dela Rosa also recalled his earlier remarks and noted that Ulpina's death should be described as an "unfortunate incident."

"What I mean by the expression 'sh*t happens,' ibig sabihin ko nun siguro wrong choice of words lang 'yun sa akin but the expression was there," Dela Rosa said.

(It was a wrong choice of words on my part but the expression was there.)

"Dapat sinabi ko pala 'unfortunate incidents do happen,' parang ganun dapat. Mali lang 'yung ginamit ko na 'sh*t happens' but that's true. In police operations, sino ba ang may gustong magkamali ang operations niya?" he said.

(I should have said that 'unfortunate incidents do happen' or something like that. It was wrong for me to say that 'sh*t happens' but that's true. In police operations, who wants to commit any mistake?)

Malacañang earlier defended Dela Rosa for his remarks, saying it was just an expression of the neophyte lawmaker.

“Ang ibig niya lang sabihin accidents do happen. Sino ba ang gustong may mamamatay na bata?” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said last Friday.

(He only meant that accidents do happen. Who wants a child to die anyway?)

Dela Rosa also denied that he is siding with the police and that he sees the toddler as collateral damage, saying he would lead a legislative inquiry into her death.

The senator, who is set to chair the chamber's Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said his first investigation as a lawmaker would look into Ulpina's death.

"Maasahan nila na gagawin natin ito in aid of legislation, hindi po in aid of grandstanding na magpapasikat lang ako dun..." he said.

(They can expect me to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation and not just for grandstanding so that I could be famous.)

The Philippine National Police has relieved the entire roster of the Rodriguez police force in light of the incident to give way for an internal investigation to determine whether operatives violated procedure in engaging armed suspects.

The internal probe will also verify if there is truth to the police's claim that the 3-year-old was used as a shield by her father.