EVERYBODY except perhaps the most naïve knows that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is home also to scalawags in uniform who plant evidence, torture and abuse detainees, collect protection money from the criminal underground, etc. The PNP President Duterte inherited was more part of the country’s problems than of their solution.

Hence, it is reasonable to presume that the President, a former mayor, appointed Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa as chief so he could whip the PNP up into a credible and competent agency in the country’s fight against drugs and criminality.

But now critics are hounding General “Bato” with calls for his resignation because of the killing of a Korean national right in Camp Crame which his critics judge rashly, if I may say, as the ultimate proof that the PNP is behind all the extrajudicial killings. Rashly, because General “Bato” has only been in office for less than a year and the PNP, we must admit, will take more time than that to straighten.

Still, assuming that “Bato” is failing big time in purging the PNP of undesirables, can his critics now choose a replacement that they can guarantee will reform the PNP? Of course not, because it is the commander-in-chief’s prerogative to appoint the PNP Chief. And he is standing by General “Bato” which is just as well because the latter needs more time and none of his critics can appoint a replacement much less guarantee a better one.

I must admit though that General “Bato’s” reaction of melting in the face of the scandal struck me as awkward and not brimming over with sincerity. He is a rock and rocks don’t melt in the face of challenges, they harden. His reaction should have been to tell people that the Korean affair will harden him even more in the fight to reform the PNP and rid it of scalawags.

President Duterte also missed an opportunity to dispel people’s doubts about where he stands on the issue of police corruption. It was good leadership to stand by his man “Bato” but it would’ve been much better if he assured Filipinos he will be relentless in driving out of the PNP the likes of those who kidnapped and killed the Korean for ransom.

But when all is said and done, these are relatively insignificant matters for as long President Duterte and General “Bato” are going in the right direction, missteps and stumbles notwithstanding, in the fight against drugs and criminality.

Every day media present us proofs of how widespread the problem is and how deeply its roots have sunk in the country. Hence, the war must go on. We criticize for better ways. We condemn serious missteps not so much to stop the war as to insure that it is fought more constitutionally, more morally, hence more effectively.