"We don’t mean that in a good way."
Denying obvious wrongdoing does nothing to enhance a person’s credibility.
We would have thought that the Philippine National Police (PNP) would know that by now.
We still remember how the PNP chief in 2017, now Senator Ronald dela Rosa, initially justified the police execution of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, a high school student, in a dark alley in Caloocan City on Aug. 16. Instead of holding his men accountable, Dela Rosa at the time blamed the victim’s parents, and claimed that he was a drug courier for his father and uncles.
We recall, too, that the police report on the incident was an outright lie, claiming that the defenseless teenager had shot at the police first. CCTV footage and witness accounts said otherwise.
Two years later, this lie was conclusively laid to rest when a Caloocan court sentenced three city policemen to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murdering Delos Santos during an anti-drug operation.
Now, another PNP chief is playing the same denial game.
After being called out on a raid in the town of Pandi in Bulacan, in which police seized thousands of copies of a magazine critical of the government, PNP chief Police General Archie Gamboa turned to the default response—deny everything.
The targeted group Kadamay issued a statement recounting the events of the raid and denounced the police action on Sunday, but Gamboa, in knee-jerk fashion, blindly supported his men’s questionable account.
Quoting a report from his men, the PNP chief said no raid happened because the “subversive” magazines and materials that Pandi police loaded into their van that Sunday were surrendered.
In a separate press briefing at Camp Olivas, the regional police headquarters in Pampanga province, Brig. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, Central Luzon police director, said the chapter president of the urban rights group Kadamay had “voluntarily” told police about the magazines.
“There was no raid. [The magazines] were voluntarily surrendered to the police,” Sermonia said.
He said Maralit feared that the magazines and materials would be used during the State of the Nation Address of President Duterte. He said Maralit had expressed her group’s support for the government’s program of ending the insurgency.
If the PNP chief accepts this account of events without question, we have a bridge we’d like to sell him.
On the other hand, if he is trying to cover up what is clearly a violation by his men of press freedom, then he is complicit in violating the Constitution.
Either way, the police response is incredible. And we don’t mean that in a good way.