MANILA - Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa backed Tuesday a proposal for Vice President Leni Robredo to join anti-narcotics raids so she could get a better understanding of the war on drugs.
"Mas maganda para makita niya realities on the ground. If you are leading the war mahirap 'yung you are leading the war inside an airconditioned room. If you are leading the war, you should be at the forefront para alam na alam mo yung sitwasyon doon," Dela Rosa said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
(It's better for her to see the realities on the ground. If you are leading the war, it's hard if you are leading the war inside an airconditioned room. If you are leading the war, you should be at the forefront so you know the situation there.)
The Vice President earlier said she would join anti-drug operations after her Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) co-chair, national drug enforcement chief Gen. Aaron Aquino, challenged her to join "actual" drug busts.
Dela Rosa, meanwhile, acknowledged Robredo's unique situation as Vice President and a drug czar.
"Baka ma-compromise naman safety ng Vice President kung may isang bala lang diyan napupunta sa kaniya delikado siya. Nasa kaniya na, nasa dibdib niya kung kaya niyang i-risk ang kaniyang buhay, then sumama siya pero 'yun nga may risk talaga," said Dela Rosa, who as national police chief had led government's anti-drug campaign at the start of the Duterte administration.
(It might compromise the safety of the Vice President, if you have just one bullet that would go her way, she'll be at risk. It's up to her, if she can risk her own life, then she should join, but there really is a risk."
He, meanwhile, backed Robredo's proposal for law enforcement agents to use body cameras. This proposal earlier came up amid reported police abuse in the drug war, including unlawful killings, which government denied.
"It helps both ways. It prevents policemen from committing abuses and it also prevents policemen from being victimized by harassment coming from victims," he said.
Dela Rosa also urged Robredo to start working first before asking for more funding.
"Mahirap naman na kakapasok mo pa lang funds na kaagad hinahanap mo. Dapat trabaho muna. You make do of what resources you have with you," he said.
(It's hard to ask for funds when you had just started. Work first. You make do of what resources you have with you.)
In the interview, Dela Rosa defended "Oplan Tokhang," the house-to-house knock-and-plead campaign against drug suspects that Robredo wants scrapped.
The senator said the campaign had resulted in over a million drug addicts surrendering.
"What's wrong with Oplan Tokhang? Baka hindi nila matanggap na itong Oplan Tokhang sinira ang diskarte ng mga drug personalities dito," he said.
(What's wrong with Oplan Tokhang? Probably they can't accept that Oplan Tokhang got in the way of how drug personalities do business.)
"Without Oplan Tokhang we could not have 1.6 million surrenderers. We could not have 130,000 drug personalities arrested. Without Oplan Tokhang, we could not have reduced the index crime volume by 49 percent," he added.
The lawmaker said that during his time as Philippine National Police chief, they were able to cut the supply of illegal drugs, making it harder for pushers to conduct illegal drug trade. He claimed that before the Duterte administration, buying shabu was as easy as buying candies on side streets.
"Kumpara ngayon mayroon pa rin, pero tagong-tago na hirap na hirap na silang dumiskarte," he said.
(Compared to now, there still is, but the trade is done in secret, it's becoming hard for them.)
"Giyera ito, reality ito. I've been there, I've done that. I've suffered enough in this war, hindi lang ako pati pamilya ko. Mga tauhan ko...This is reality, hindi ito fantasy film kundi action movie ito."
(This is a war, this is reality. I've been there, I've done that. I've suffered enough in this war, not just me but my family too. These were my people... This is reality, not a fantasy film but an action movie.)
Dela Rosa said he would wait for results after the Vice President called for a more comprehensive approach to the drug problem by treating addiction as a public health issue.
"Let's give her enough time to prove herself. Mahirap i-pre-judge 'yung tao na hindi pa nakapag-perform so hintayin natin baka something good will happen," Dela Rosa said.
(Let's give her enough time to prove herself. It's hard to pre-judge a person who has not performed so let's wait, maybe something good will happen.)
While Dela Rosa admits that Robredo needs all the help she could get, he said that in dealing with reality, the success of the war on drugs depends on operatives on the ground.
On Monday, Robredo sat down with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as she moved to shift the government’s bloody drug war to one adopting best practices while avoiding mistakes committed in other countries.