‘Bato’ vows martial law won’t happen again, but…
We have no plans of declaring martial law.
This was the assurance of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa as he allayed fears that martial law is looming after President Duterte declared a state of lawlessness in the country and the police raised their terror alert to level three.
“Wala kaming balak mag-declare ng martial law. Walang sinasabi si Presidente na mag-declare ng martial law (We have no plans to declare martial law. The President did not order a declaration of martial law),” Dela Rosa said during the turnover of a unit of the Special Action Force commandos to their new post in the New Bilibid Prisons on Friday.
“Malayo ‘yan sa isipan natin (We are not thinking about it). That’s the least of our concerns,” Dela Rosa said.
The police chief even said he would not advise the President to declare martial law as this instilled fear into him when he was young.
Dela Rosa revealed that he himself was a victim of police violence during the martial law regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
“‘Yung hatinggabi nahuli kami ng curfew kasi nanood kami ng boxing. Hatinggabi na wala kami masakyan. Naglalakad na lang kami sa barangay namin. Hinuli kami ng PC (Philippine Constabulary), sinakay kami sa six-by-six, dinala kami sa PC barracks, pinalinya kami at nilagyan kami ng machine gun at magdasal daw kami at firing squad daw kami dahil sa curfew,” he said.
(We were once caught for violating the curfew after watching a boxing match. It was midnight already and we could not find a ride. We were walking in our village when PC members accosted us, and made us board their six-by-six truck. They brought us to their barracks, lined us up, and threatened to shoot us with their machine guns. They ordered us to say our prayers because they were going to kill us by firing squad for violating the curfew.)
“Hindi man kami pinatay, tinakot lang kami (They did not kill us, they just scared us). That’s martial law for me. Do you think ako mismo mag-advise ng (I myself will advise) martial law?” he said.
Marcos placed the Philippines under military rule in September 1972. The massive people power revolution ended Marcos’ dictatorial regime in February 1986.
At that time, Dela Rosa had graduated from the Philippine Military Academy as a member of “Sinagtala” Class of 1986.
He also recalled members of the PC beating up his father and torturing him by forcibly feeding him with a burnt “bangus” (milkfish).
“‘Yung father ko binugbog ng Philippine Constabulary. Pinakain ng bangus na sugba. Inihaw na bangus na nakadikit na mga uling na mamula mula pa. Pina-open ‘yung bibig ng father ko, sinaksaksan ng bangus. Namaga ‘yung mukha ng father ko. That’s martial law for me. ‘Yun ang kinagisnan ko,” he said.
(Members of the Philippine Constabulary, beat up my father and made him eat burnt bangus. It was already coated with burnt coal but they forced it into his mouth. His face swelled. That’s martial law for me, that is what I experienced.)
But if President Rodrigo Duterte would decide to declare martial law, he said the police would do it better this time.
Being the chief of the Philippine police, the implementors of martial rule, Dela Rosa said he would see to it that there would be no human rights violation under his watch.
“Kung talagang mag order ang President ng martial law at ako mag-implement alam ko kung paano ma-implement na hindi ma-violate ang human rights kasi ako mismo ay biktima ako. Alam na alam ko ‘yang martial law na ‘yan,” he said.
(If the President would indeed declare martial law and I would implement it, I would know how to implement it without violating human rights because I was a victim of martial law too. I know a lot about martial law.) IDL/rga
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