MANILA – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday advised Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa and the rest of the police force to do their job properly and follow the law as President Rodrigo Duterte will not always be around to back them.
During a joint Senate committee hearing on Monday, Trillanes, a staunch Duterte critic, took Dela Rosa to task for the rising number of extra-judicial killings since the president launched his massive campaign to rid the country of illegal drugs and reduce criminality.
Trillanes told Dela Rosa that his inability to solve the rising cases of extra-judicial killings might lead the public to think that the police leadership is condoning this illegal method.
Trillanes also echoed concerns that policemen are abusing their authority by deliberately killing helpless drug suspects.
''Ang sinasabi ko lang, general, umiikot ang mundo eh. Alam niyo itong si Presidente Duterte, naka-pwesto siya ngayon. Malay natin ang susunod na makaka-pwesto eh ang prayoridad ay human rights at mag-conduct ng investigation,'' Trillanes told Dela Rosa.
(General, the world goes around. President Duterte is in power now. But what if the one who will succeed him prioritizes human rights and decides to launch an investigation into the killings?)
''By then, retired na kayo at kapag binuksan ang mga kaso na ito, nakatiwangwang ang mga pulis…pagka binuksan iyan at [nagkaroon ng] isang honest to goodness investigation, kailangan properly ang conduct ng operation talaga at otherwise sila rin ang mananagot long after ang mga commanders nila ay nag-retire na, nawala na."
(By then, you'll already be retired and some policemen will be left vulnerable if an honest to goodness investigation is launched. The conduct of operations must be proper. Otherwise, these policemen will be made accountable long after their commanders are gone.)
Duterte has promised to fully back the police force in case they are slapped with cases in the performance of their duties, including pardoning them.
Duterte has also promised to double the salary of policemen.
'PAGOD NA PAGOD NA'
During the hearing, Dela Rosa admitted that the rising number of extra-judicial killings is really alarming, and the only way to stop it is if Duterte calls off his war on drugs.
''Sana mag-order si President Duterte sa amin na 'you stop the war on drugs' at pabayaan na lang natin yan. Kami ay pagod na pagod na sa trabaho na ito. Kung tutuusin, sobra na ang pagod namin, marami ng pulis ko ang namamatay,'' he said.
(If only President Duterte could tell us to stop the war on drugs. We are exhausted with this job, to tell you frankly. I have also lost many of my men.)
But Dela Rosa said the extra-judicial killings should not push aside the police as they perform their duties, especially since the war on drugs, in his view, has brought positive effects to society such as lower crime rate and an increased sense of safety among the public.
''Right now, yung aking mga tao, busy sa war on drugs. Nakita ko maraming namamatay na Death Under Investigation -- allegedly vigilante killings. Pero itong aming kampanya ngayon ay nasa amin ang momentum kaya ayaw kong sabihin sa kanila (police district directors) na ire-relieve ko kayo at tatanggalin kayo sa pwesto dahil yung Death Under Investigation ay hindi niyo nabigyan ng tuldok,'' he said.
(Right now, my men are busy on the war on drugs. There are many Deaths Under Investigation, alleged vigilante killings. I don't want to affect the police's momentum in the crusade by telling my subordinates that I will sack them if they fail to solve these killings.)
Dela Rosa said that 712 drug traffickers and users have been killed during police operations. The police are also investigating 1,067 drug-related killings outside police work, he said.
Monitoring by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group show that there have been 1,158 drug-related deaths from May 10 to August 22.
Of this number, 699 were killed in police operations and 362 were killed by unidentified assailants. Ninety-seven bodies were found away from the crime scene.