Dela Rosa to cops in drug war: ‘Better to face charges but stay alive’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa defended on Thursday the drug buy-bust in Rodriguez, Rizal that led to the death of a three-year-old girl, a police officer, and two suspects, saying arresting officers had to defend themselves during the encounter.
In a chance interview, dela Rosa, a former chief of the Philippine National Police, said police officers should better stay alive in conducting operations and just face charges afterward.
“Talagang judgment call mo. Sabihin mo hindi ko pwedeng barilin ito, [kahit] binabaril ako ng taong ito. Hindi ko ‘to pwede barilin dahil may bata? So kailangan hindi ako magreturn fire, but kung hindi ako magreturn fire ako din ang mamamatay,” he said.
Dela Rosa said police officers enforcing the drug war should protect themselves by returning fire to suspects resisting arrests, but added collateral damage may indeed happen during gunfights.
“Kung ikaw ay pulis, hindi ka naman papayag na hintayin ko na lang na bahala na kung matamaan ako, kung mamatay ako, wag lang ako makatama ng bata. No. Hindi mo ‘yan maiisip, hindi mo masasabi ‘yan,” he said.
“Dahil for practical purposes ang mindset ng pulis palaging ganyan ‘yan. Harapin ko na lang ‘yung kaso afterwards, importante buhay ako…which ina-advise ko sa kanila,” he said.
He said he also advises police officers to survive “by all means,” adding that no one from human rights groups would support their families if they die in operations.
“‘Wag ka magpaka-hero-hero diyan na magpapakamatay ka na lang dahil ayaw mo magreturn fire dahil posibleng may matamaan na iba. Human instinct ‘yan diba?” dela Rosa said.
The neophyte senator, however, wished he can recall his earlier statement that “shit happens” in anti-drug operations, regretting his “wrong choice of words.”
Dela Rosa explained he should have said “unfortunate incidents happen during police operations.”/ac
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