MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday revealed it could only so far investigate more than 500 of the 756 drug-related deaths due to its lack of manpower.
At the resumption of the Senate inquiry on the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings, PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said that in these 756 deaths, the drug suspects were “presumed” to have resisted their arrest, by fighting it out with lawmen and snatching their firearms.
“Otherwise, kung hindi sila nanlaban, eh di buhay sana sila, your honor,” Dela Rosa told Sen. Leila de Lima when asked if the “nanlaban” angle was the PNP’s “official version” of these deaths.
“Unless proven otherwise there is controverting evidence, I presume my men are performing their duties regularly,” Dela Rosa added.
Chief Supt. Leo Angelo Leuterio, head of the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service, said that of those being investigated, 23 have already been proven to be “legitimate,” while the rest remains under investigation.
By “legitimate,” Leuterio said the probe had proven there was “prima facie” (“at first sight”) evidence to show the suspects had indeed been killed by cops while resisting arrest.
When asked by De Lima why only a fraction, or 581 deaths in 569 police operations, of the total 756 deaths had been investigated, Leuterio blamed the shortage on his office’s limited number of personnel.
“We have a limited manpower. We are short of so many personnel,” he said.
Leuterio also told the Senate committees on justice and public order that they are already interviewing the police officers from Antipolo, Rizal tagged by a Senate witness on Monday as involved in the repacking and reselling of drugs seized by the police in their operations.
These cops, according to witness Mary Rose Aquino, are also accused of being behind the deaths of her parents Rodelio and Rosalie, who she admitted were “assets” of the local police tapped to repack and resell the drugs.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Sen. Panfilo Lacson described the Duterte administration and the PNP’s anti-drug campaign as being both “impressive and alarming depending on which side one is on.”
“Ano ba ang kulang namin noon na ginagawa niyo ngayon kaya ganyan ang numero niyo,” asked Lacson, himself a former PNP chief under the Estrada administration.
In response, Dela Rosa said: “The PNP believes we have a president that is willing to support us all throughout in this campaign. Walang iwanan.”
Lacson asked: “Kung hindi si President Duterte ang commander-in-chief and hindi kayo ang chief PNP, hindi rin ganyan ang numero na makikita natin?”
“Precisely, your honor,” said Dela Rosa.
The PNP chief also assured the senators that all PNP operatives “area very much well trained” in following the PNP’s standard operating procedures.
Dela Rosa, however, appealed that the authority to train policemen be returned to the PNP.
“Hiniwalay sa amin ang training… As far as I can remember I think ang focus niya is to professionalize the PNP but what happened is the other way around,” he said. (MNS)