SENATE President Aquilino Pimentel III took potshots Thursday at Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa for calling critics of the government’s anti-drug war “a bunch of ingrates.”
“Where is the peace and order that Dela Rosa says the people are ungrateful for?” Pimentel asked.
His remarks came as President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to kill any policeman involved in the drug trade.
“There are 9,000 to11,000 police in the country who are into drugs. Ask me what I will do with them if they are part of the organized crime. Son of a bitch, I will kill you,” Duterte said in an agribusiness exhibit at Pasay City Thursday.
Dela Rosa earlier told reporters that anyone who criticizes the PNP’s war on drugs should be considered ingrates as they should be thanking the police for the benefits they now enjoyed in terms of better peace and order.
“You can criticize us to the high heavens but I can tell you straight in the eye, you critics, I tell you, you are a bunch of ingrates, I know you also benefit from the peace and order brought by the war on drugs,” he said.
“I am just being frank: You’re ingrates. Go and criticize us, I have no problem….My response to you is that you’re an ingrate, your children enjoy going to school without any anxiety, without any fear because street crimes have gone down because of the war on drugs, and then you attack us,” he added.
Pimentel’s response was to cite the killing of Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro councilor Melchor Arago and his son by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday.
Arago, 52, was in his car parked in front of his house, when two motorcycle-riding men approached and shot him and his son Kenneth, when he went out of the house.
Pimentel, who was instrumental in the passage of the NBI Modernization Law, challenged the PNP to shape up.
He noted that criminals are being emboldened by what they see as the incompetence of the PNP in catching them.
Citing the PNP’s own figures, Pimentel said there were 6,225 drug-related deaths between July 2016 and September 2017.
He said these deaths were broken down into 2,290 drug-related deaths or homicide cases under investigation, 3,850 deaths during police operations, and 85 police or military personnel killed in action.
The Senate President said that the large number of unsolved “deaths under investigation” is unacceptable.
Pimentel said, “One homicide is one unnecessary death too many. Add the large number of unsolved killings, made worse by some of the victims being minors, and you start wondering what the police are there for.”
Hs said the police must have the proper training and tools to carry out President Duterte’s campaign against drugs and criminality.
“The Filipino people deserve a modern, professional, and capable police force. Right now, the PNP is none of the above. We need to take radical action to change this state of affairs,” he said.
Earlier, he suggested having a VFA-style treaty with foreign police forces to help train the PNP.
In a taped interview last week, the President claimed that 17,000 members o the Philippine National Police are into the illegal drug trade.
On Thursday, he lowered that number to 9,000.
The President reiterated that organized crime was behind the flow of drugs in the country, referring to the Bamboo Group and 14K drug triads who operated in the country.
As to the number of deaths in his bloody drug war, the President blamed the police for not doing their jobs to protect the public.
Turning his attention to the killing by police of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, Duterte said the boy should not have been out on the streets late, given that there was a curfew.
“Kian was supposedly a promising child, but when he died, he was suffering from depression,” Duterte said.
“Why are the children outside when they are supposed to be home? There is supposed to be a curfew that should be implemented everywhere,” he added.
But CCTV footage shows Delos Santos was shot by Caloocan police at 8:24 p.m., well before the 10 p.m. curfew. Nor was Delos Santos suffering from depression. That was 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz, who was also killed by Caloocan police.
The group of human rights lawyers Artikulo 3 on Thursday called for Dela Rosa to resign after he described critics of the government’s war on drugs as “ingrates.”
In a statement, Artikulo 3, whose members include former Vice President Jejomar Binay and former senator Rene Saguisag, said Dela Rosa should step down if he cannot stand public criticisms of his “failed, flawed and floundering” bloody campaign against drugs.
Meanwhile, a Social Weather Stations survey showed a huge majority of Filipinos believe police should capture drug suspects alive.
In a survey fielded among 1,200 respondents, more than 90 percent said that it is important for authorities to have drug suspects alive, with 68 percent who said it is very important and 22 percent saying that it is somewhat important.
Some 11 percent meanwhile, believe that it is not important having drug suspects captured alive (eight percent somewhat not important; three percent not at all important).
About nine out of 10 respondents in all areas said it is important to capture illegal drugs suspects alive, with the highest proportion coming from Metro Manila at 95 percent, followed by the Visayas at 90 percent, Balance of Luzon at 90 percent and Mindanao at 86 percent.
The same survey also revealed that 73 percent of Filipinos worry about becoming victims of extrajudicial killings in the country, with 41 percent who answered that they are very worried and 32 percent who answered that they are somewhat worried.
Some 13 percent said that they are not too worried of being victims of extrajudicial killings while 14 percent said that they are not worried at all.
The latest survey, conducted June 23 to 26 has sampling error margins of ±3 percent for national percentages.