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Body cams needed in drug war – ‘Bato’

PHILIPPINE National Police chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa on Friday said that once ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte to resume their war on drugs, he will see to it that they will first procure body cameras which should be worn by his men each time they conduct an anti-narcotics operation.

De la Rosa said the “PNP is always ready to return to action” once given by the President the go-signal but needs to rethink its strategies. “If we assume the war on drugs, first, pipilitin naming makabili ng body cameras na gagamitin ng aming mga operatiba. I will insist on that,” he said.

Body cams, the PNP chief said, will protect both the police and the subject of operations since it will record what actually took place during an anti-narcotics mission.

The PNP chief admitted learning from the mistakes they committed during their previous war on drugs. “Ang pagkakamali naming eh sobrang gigil ng ibang mga tao naming at hindi na-cleanse agad ang aming ranks para hindi masakyan ng mga hunyango,” he said.

He referred to rogues in uniform who took advantage of the crackdown against illegal drug trafficking and abuse they launched on July 1 last year to engage in criminal acts like robbery-extortion and murder.
    
There were also the cases of some policemen, including some Caloocan City police personnel, who were accused of deliberately killing known drug offenders.
    
Gen. de la Rosa however said that their ongoing internal cleansing is achieving its desired results. “Lately konti ang huli namin, meaning konti ang reklamo sa CITF (Counter-Intelligence Task Force),” he said.
    
Maraming nagbabago na sa mga tiwaling pulis dahil sa marami ang nauhuli, marami ang kinukulong ng CITF,” he said.
    
The PNP chief last month welcomed the decision of President Duterte to stop the police’s war on drugs as it will allow them to concentrate on fighting criminality in the streets particularly those being committed by motorcycle-riding assassins and robbers.
    
However, he said that although they have totally stopped their anti-narcotics campaign, he will personally ask the President to let them return to the battle if worst comes to worst.
    
Personally, the PNP chief said he wants to help the President in his war on drugs. “I know deep inside mga anak ko, they can go to the schools unmolested. Pero ngayon kung babalik na naman sila, baka mamolestya anak ko,” said the top cop who will be retiring from the police service this coming January.
    
“But if things get worse and talagang hindi kakayanin, so  kailangan sabihin ko sa kanya siguro, Sir pabalikin niyo kami dahil kawawa naman ang pamilya natin. Ako na ang aapela if that time comes.”
    
Gen. de la Rosa said he even thanked the president for his decision. “Ang sabi ko yes, salamat Sir at  pahinga na rin kami. Pagod na rin kami. Actually talagang pagod na pagod na ang tao ko,” he explained of the police’s one-year-and-a-half major role infighting illegal drug trafficking and abuse.
    
He said that the words Oplan: Tokhang and Project: Double Barrel have been strongly associated with the PNP’s name and the fact will also remain that police lost 76 of its men with dozens wounded too in the drug war.
    
“I lost a lot of my men in this war. Maraming patay, maraming sugatan, maraming pamilya na nagdudurusa at syempre me namatay na drug personalities. Marami din na tao doon policemen ko man o drug personalities, buhay pa rin ng tao yun,” he said.
 
Gen. de la Rosa however lamented the president’s move. “Nanghihinayang talaga ako at hindi naman ako plastic na hindi nanghihinayang. Parang babalik na naman tayo sa o Halleluyah na naman ang mga drug pushers sa pulis. Matagal silang gutom matagal silang walang kita matagal silang wala, ngayon walang pulis para makialam sa kanila, eh di Halleluyah,” he said.