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Monday, May 20, 2024

Bato’s new job

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Former Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa started his new job as the chief of Bureau of Corrections this week. 

One of his first acts was to visit a building that houses high-risk inmates. 

Dela Rosa talked tough to high-profile convicts who are also allegedly running the drug trade right within the penitentiary. Supreme irony given that it is supposed to be where convicted criminals serve out their sentences and attempt to rehabilitate themselves after the wrongs they have done to society.

The new Corrections chief singled out inmates like Peter Co and Jaybee Sebastian and reminded them that even if they had a lot of money, he would be the bigger bigwig because he would put an end to their shenanigans. 

“Right here, right now, ako ang siga rito.”

The continuing drug trade in the corrections facility, organizationally under the Department of Justice, has been a thorn on the side of President Rodrigo Duterte, who was swept to power in 2016 because of his promise of eliminating the drug menace.

It’s not as if many BuCor chiefs have not tried before. Unfortunately, all of them were either defeated by the entrenched system, or became part of it themselves. Worse, there is a perception that the payoffs go beyond the prison bars into the desk drawers of the people who should be making sure these things did not happen in the first place. 

Proof of the thriving trade was the comfortable—luxurious, really—living quarters of select inmates and their enjoyment of privileges that they should be deprived of, alongside their liberty.

Dela Rosa promises to end all that, saying he would be the inmates’ best friend if they abided by rules but their worst enemy if they continued their nefarious activities. Thankfully, he did not give himself a deadline —in our experience such timelines are prone to adjustments until they lose their intended effect. 

Dela Rosa’s gusto and penchant for visibility made him a popular, if polarizing, police chief. It’s good that he brings such enthusiasm to his new job, but in the end, success will be measured by far less noisy benchmarks. 


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