Militant groups hit Bato for ‘shit happens’ remarks
MANILA, Philippines – Militant groups have slammed Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa for allegedly making insensitive remarks concerning the death of a three-year-old girl during an anti-drug operation.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General Renato Reyes claimed on Tuesday that Dela Rosa’s words are disturbing, as the discussion was about an innocent person killed and not mere collateral damage.
“‘Shit happens’ is an insensitive remark that encourages rather than stops impunity. It seeks to provide an unacceptable explanation for innocents killed in the course of the drug war,” Reyes explained.
“It reflects a dangerous mindset that condones human rights violations in the course of the anti-drug campaign. That such words come from a sitting senator is truly disturbing,” he added.
On Thursday, Dela Rosa — the former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and architect of Oplan Tokhang, the Duterte administration’s war against illegal drugs — defended police officers involved the anti-drug operation in Rodriguez, Rizal.
Last June 29, three-year-old Myka Ulpina died after being hit by a stray bullet. According to police officers, the victim’s father — who was the target of the operation — used the child as a human shield. Her mother said that the suspect attempted to flee, but never used the child to protect himself.
According to Bayan Muna Reps. Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat, ‘shit happens’ because the PNP is hooked to “short-cut” operations through killing suspects whether they are innocent or not.
“Nakakagalit ang ganitong mindset na tinitrivialize ang buhay ng mga tao lalo pa ang mga bata (This kind of mindset that trivializes life, especially children’s lives, is infuriating),” Gaite said.
“Ganitong kaisipan din ang ginagamit ng kapulisan at militar sa mga probinsya na kahit sino na lang ay dinadakip o pinapatay tapos sasabihin na mga rebelde o kriminal na nanlaban. Madalas na mga katutubo at mga magsasaka ang mga biktima ng ganitong mga pangyayari,” Cullamat added.
(This is also the mindset adopted by the police and military in the provinces. They arrest or kill anyone and later claim that the victims were rebels or criminals who fight law enforcers. The victims are often members of ethnic minorities or farmers.)
Several personalities have also criticized Dela Rosa for his statements, including fellow senators and even Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former police chief himself. However, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo clarified that by saying ‘shit,’ the man known as “Bato” meant to say accidents happen.
Government data shows more than 5,000 individuals have been killed in legitimate police operations. Opposition groups claim, however, that the number may be well over 11,000. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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