Bato call to murder, arson just a warning, says Palace
The Philippine National Police chief was not encouraging violence when he urged drug users on Thursday to kill traffickers and burn their homes, Malacañang said yesterday.
Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa was just warning drug lords, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said at a press briefing in the Palace.
Dela Rosa, who talks tough like Mr. Duterte, on Thursday spoke to 1,200 drug users who had surrendered in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental province, and suggested they kill traffickers and burn their homes.
“Why don’t you give them a visit, pour gasoline on their homes and set these on fire to register your anger,” Dela Rosa said.
“They’re all enjoying your money, money that destroyed your brain. You know who the drug lords are. Would you like to kill them? Go ahead. Killing them is allowed because you are the victims,” he said.
When asked if Mr. Duterte supported Dela Rosa’s call to murder and arson, Abella denied it was the PNP chief’s intent.
“There is no such call. It’s a passionate statement,” Abella said.
“Even if that is a call, it’s not an incitement to kill. It’s a warning. It’s a heads-up,” he said.
Dela Rosa’s remarks followed Mr. Duterte’s own controversial directives that have sparked criticism from the United Nations, the United States and international human rights groups.
Mr. Duterte, 71, won the May elections in a landslide on a promise to kill tens of thousands of suspected criminals in an unprecedented blitz that would eliminate illegal drugs in six months.
He denies supporting extrajudicial killings, but keeps on urging police to kill drug suspects, promising them protection from prosecution.
Dela Rosa told a Senate inquiry this week that the confirmed number of people who had been killed in the drug war was 1,946.
He said police had shot dead 756 suspects in self-defense. The rest were killed in other cases that were still under investigation, he said.
Those 1,190 other killings are blamed on vigilantes, but police say the killers could be the traffickers themselves.
When asked about the legal implications of Dela Rosa’s remarks, the President’s chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, said the PNP chief’s words were just “drama” and made “for effect.”
“You may have the worst of intentions, the criminal intent, but if you don’t do that, you have no crime,” Panelo said.
Asked what would happen if someone actually followed the suggestion of the PNP chief, Panelo said “crime is personal to the offender.”
“How will you implicate the one who gave you the order? You have to prove there is such moral influence between one who agitates you to perform a criminal act,” he said.
Abella said people may not have fully appreciated the extent of the drug menace, which is coming to light only now because it was ignored or neglected in the past.
This is why the President is making a “large, loud call” against it, he said.
Asked whether the expressions of concern about the killings has given the government a pause, Abella said the administration’s fight against drugs had to be seen in context.
“From where the President is and from where the President stands, what he sees is basically a nation that is really, has really entered into the maws of narcopolitics, when people who are in government and people who are in authority have consciously made choices that actually allowed the proliferation of drugs,” he said.
Mr. Duterte sees the campaign against narcotics as a war and believes the 600,000 drug users or dealers who have surrendered are just the “tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Abella said not all the drug-related killings should be blamed on the administration. With a report from AFP/TVJ