POLICE Director General Ronald dela Rosa confirmed in a visit to Cebu yesterday that some recently relieved police officials had been suspected of accepting money from personalities in the illegal drug trade.
He declined to give details, but said that the relief of non-commissioned officers will follow soon.
In his first official visit since taking office, he also apologized to Mayor Tomas Osmeña for the relief of the former Cebu City police chief, Senior Supt. Benjamin Santos, and other police officials. He said it was needed.
“Pasensiya na, Sir, kung nahiubos ka nga gipangtanggal namo ang imohang city director, ang imong mga pulis nga na-identify gyud sa illegal drug trade (I’m sorry, Sir, if you felt slighted that we removed your city director and some of your police officers who were identified with the illegal drug trade),” dela Rosa said.
“Prangkahanay to, pasensiya na, ing-ani ka tininuod among kumbati karon (Frankly speaking, this is how serious our fight is now),” the PNP chief added during a press conference in the regional headquarters based in Cebu City.
Dela Rosa also appealed to the mayor to reconsider his decision to stop giving support to the police officers newly assigned to the city.
“As much as I want to please you, we have a job to do. We badly need you. Please don’t abandon us in this fight. Kaloy-i tawon imong mga kapulisan (Please be compassionate to your police force),” he said.
He also asked for a free hand in running the police in the first six months of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, and promised to resign if the illegal drug problem isn’t alleviated after then.
“My reaction to that is, what can I do? He has the full control of his government resources. But remember, the resources intended for peace and order are not personal. Those are government resources intended for the benefit for the people of Cebu,” the PNP chief said.
He also commended the latter’s earlier drive against drugs.
After the May 9 elections but even before his term began last June 30, Osmeña gave the police P50,000 for every suspected drug pusher who got killed in a shootout.
Dela Rosa encouraged Cebu City’s police force to continue doing their duty with or without support from the local government.
“The PNP will survive. That doesn’t dampen our spirit to fight drugs and criminality,” he said.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Noli Taliño stressed that the police force needs the support of local governments.
“The reward system can really help the police but this time we are more motivated with the support of the National Government, the PNP and the community,” he said.
As part of dela Rosa’s visit, 27 journalists who cover the police beat voluntarily subjected themselves to a drug test yesterday.
The PNP chief praised them for doing so, and said he would urge journalists in Metro Manila to follow suit.
In his news conference yesterday, Mayor Osmeña wouldn’t say whether he accepted the PNP chief’s apology or not.
“Who cares? Sila na magbuot (They want to call the shots). Just don’t ask me anything about the police. Like what I’ve said, the police is not a priority,” the mayor said.
He also challenged the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to file a case against him if he violated any policy by saying he would no longer support the police or their anti-drug campaign.
Osmeña said he had personally asked Dela Rosa to retain the former Central Visayas police director, Chief Supt. Patrocinio Comendador. The PNP chief, he added, said he would give Comendador three months, but after only a month, the officer was replaced.
“I just want the people to know that,” Osmeña said.
Osmeña has also expressed dismay over the recent transfer of Senior Superintendent Santos, former chief of the Cebu City Police Office.
During his visit, dela Rosa and PRO 7 officials also signed an agreement with retired judges and prosecutors who will help defend police officers facing criminal complaints. Retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Isaias Dicdican led the lawyers’ group.
The PNP chief urged police officers who are on drugs to surrender and undergo rehabilitation, without waiting for a drug test, if they want to remain in the service.
“Pag nag-positive ka sa (If you are found positive in a) drug test, I will have you terminated from the service,” he said.
So far, Chief Superintendent Taliño said, nine officers have tested positive for illegal drug use since July 1.
At one point during his speech, dela Rosa lifted the right side of his dark blue shirt and showed a handgun tucked in the waistband of his trousers.
“Andam ko nga mopusil kinsa man akong makit-an diri nga drug lord. Kining among uniform dili mi pwede mag luklok ug armas pero ako naa ko diri sa hawak (I am ready to shoot any drug lord I see. This uniform makes it difficult to carry a firearm, but I have one ready),” he said.
The police chief ordered the Central Visayas police to do more in the campaign against illegal drugs and told them not to be distracted by any investigation on the police.
“When the smoke clears, kinahanglan kamo ang gatindog, ang mga kriminal ang natumba (the criminals must be down and you must be the ones left standing),” said dela Rosa.