THE outgoing Director General of the Philippine National Police (PNP), who led the country’s deadly war on drugs, broke into tears on Monday in his farewell bid to the police service.
According to Rappler, Ronald dela Rosa gave the last speech as PNP chief during flag raising ceremony in Camp Crame, the national PNP headquarters. “I did everything … I did everything I could,” he said.
Dela Rosa, who held the top post for a year and nine months, thanked the 180,000 PNP personnel for their resilience and apologised for his mistakes.
“This is the only thing I want to tell you: If I were a good or a bad father to the organisation,” he said. “It’s up to you to judge. I don’t have to brag about it. You be the judge. If I had many mistakes, I’d like to say sorry.”
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier announced Dela Rosa would take the helm of the Bureau of Corrections upon exit from the PNP.
According to ABS-CBN News, the police officer was a young lieutenant of the Philippine Constabulary when he met Duterte in 1986. Duterte was then acting vice-mayor of Davao City.
Eventually they became friends, with the latter even acting as principal sponsor in the officer’s wedding. Dela Rosa later served as Davao City police chief.
Nearly 4,000 people have been killed in shootouts with the police in raids and sting operations since Duterte came to power in July 2016, government data shows. But human rights groups put the figure higher, accusing police of executing drug users and peddlers in cold blood.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 12,000 suspected drug users and dealers, mostly from poor families in urban centers across the country, are estimated to have died in the drug war.
The rights watchdog said in January the figure included an estimated 4,000 during operations led by the police and the remainder by “unidentified gunmen.”
It added that since the drug war began in June, 2016, Duterte and his officials have publicly reviled, humiliated and, in one instance, jailed human rights advocates.
“President Duterte has not only resisted calls to end his brutal ‘drug war,’ but has used populist rhetoric to disparage the brave activists who have been investigating and denouncing his cruel campaign,” deputy Asia director, Phelim Kine, said.
“Since Duterte will never undertake a serious investigation into the ‘war on drugs,’ it’s up to the United Nations to support an international investigation and bring the mass killings to a stop.”