MANILA, Philippines – “A hypocrite” is how Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo described Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa for asking God’s forgiveness on behalf of the policemen who have killed thousands of alleged criminals.
Pabillo said the policemen should go beyond asking for forgiveness by changing their ways, stopping the perpetration of atrocities against other people and arresting those behind “vigilante killings.”
“Even if they asked for forgiveness but would not change their ways, it would be hypocrisy. You will ask for forgiveness yet you would continue with your killings,” the bishop declared over Church-run Radio Veritas.
Going to confession would not even be enough if the law enforcers would only continue committing sins, he said.
“If they would not change, then their sorry would be meaningless,” Pabillo said.
Saying sorry, he added, might be acceptable if people were only injured and not killed.
Dela Rosa wished during Monday’s PNP Christmas party that people pray for the policemen and for God to forgive them for all the killings done in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
He found an ally in presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, who said Dela Rosa’s plea for forgiveness should not be seen as an indication of guilt of the policemen tasked by President Duterte to take the lead in his intensified war against illegal drugs.
Abella said the PNP chief’s call was in consonance with the killings that came in the wake of legitimate police operations and disputed insinuations that it indicated a bothered conscience in the wake of concerns raised over alleged human rights violations in relation to the increased number of extra-judicial killings.
“It is an admission of engagement in police processes, you know. So, basically, you know, these are not murders being committed. These people are engaged in police operations and that’s why even the President couches his terms in, for example, war on drugs,” he added.
While Abella, a former evangelist, agreed that the number of killings is “not ordinary,” these should not be misconstrued as a result of the encouragement of the President’s call to go after and kill the last drug lord while he is in office.
“You need to understand what he (Dela Rosa) is saying, that people are being…there are actually casualties during legitimate police operations. That’s what he’s saying. That’s what he’s asking apologies for,” Abella added.
But for Pabillo, if the police are really intent on asking forgiveness, then it should go after the killers.
“If they are really repenting and asking for forgiveness then the PNP should apprehend these people engaged in vigilante killings,” Pabillo stressed.
At the Redemptorist’s national shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, rector Joseph Echano is growing worried over the public’s reaction to the photo gallery that features pictures of those who were killed and placed under the label “Death Under Investigation (DUI).”
The religious community observed that a number of those who visited the gallery appeared to approve of the recent incidents of alleged extrajudicial killings.
“We are worried because the purpose of the photo gallery at the Baclaran Church is to inform people that each person must have their dignity, even the criminals. The criminals have the right to live and be given the opportunity to reform themselves,” Echano said.
According to a PNP report, more than 2,000 suspected illegal drug users and pushers were killed from July until Dec. 18. It also said that 3,993 cases are classified under DUI.
Meanwhile, Dela Rosa said he would rather go to prison for murder than for stealing people’s money, an act he described as “nakakadiri” (filthy).
He also reminded the PNP’s logistics support service personnel to be extra careful in dealing with businessmen and in all their procurement transactions.
Dela Rosa installed Chief Supt. Amador Corpus as the unit’s acting director, replacing Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac who was assigned as PNP regional director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. – With Cecille Suerte-Felipe, Tina Mendez