Sans death penalty, drug war to be bloody â Bato
Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who chairs the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, also said he sees little need to change the way the administration is waging its campaign against illegal drugs, dubbed “Oplan Tokhang,” which he started when he was appointed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief in 2016.
The STAR/Mong Pintolo, file
Sans death penalty, drug war to be bloody – Bato
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 19, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Unless the country allows the imposition of the death penalty against high-level drug traffickers, the Duterte administration’s war on drugs would still be bloody and violent as pushers will continue to resist law enforcers, Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said on Thursday.

Dela Rosa, who chairs the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, also said he sees little need to change the way the administration is waging its campaign against illegal drugs, dubbed “Oplan Tokhang,” which he started when he was appointed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief in 2016.

He gave Tokhang a passing grade, and said while authorities generally have under control the drug-related killings and violence on the streets, “one cannot say the same among the ranks of pushers and drug lords who are willing to fight to the death with the police.”

“You can say that to the government, control (the violence), but there’s a limit to that. The police can’t just take cover when being shot at by drug pushers,” Dela Rosa told The Chiefs on Cignal TV’s One News in Filipino.

“You know how many of our policemen who have died, who have been wounded in the war on drugs? Many, and you can’t say they’re (pushers) just being executed, gunfights really happen, it’s war,” he said.

He said policemen are basically not trigger-happy as portrayed by some critics. He admitted to have killed several criminals legally in the past but the experience is not one to savor.

“Policemen are human too and we value life. I tell you, many times I’ve killed, in a legal way, but no matter how many times you get into encounters, these remain in your head, the trauma. After I’ve killed a person, I run to the church and beg for mercy from God,” Dela Rosa said in Filipino.

He said drug lords, mostly Chinese and some of them inside the maximum security building at the New Bilibid Prison, continue to ply their trade because they know they will not be executed even if they are already convicted.

“As long as we do not have the death penalty for these drug traffickers, nothing will happen to our war on drugs. They will just laugh at us and these Chinese drug lords will just say: ‘even if we’re inside Bilibid, we’re enjoying ourselves, we can easily control the drug business outside because we’re alive’,” he said.

“But if we execute these Chinese, who can bring in the drugs? Who will have them distribute it… the drug cartel is there inside Bilibid. They control the drug business outside,” he added.

He said he is giving the administration a passing grade even if President Duterte has admitted that he was not able to lick the drug problem in six months as promised in his campaign.

Dela Rosa said despite the criticisms and the lack of death penalty, “much has changed” at street level, particularly in the slums where people thank him for Oplan Tokhang whenever he visits.

He also said the PNP must not relent in its internal cleansing to rid the force of cops into drugs as the illegal industry remains tempting.

The senator said he has no problems allowing the conduct of an independent investigation of the drug-related extrajudicial killings in the country by UN rights groups.

“I’ve no problem with that because I’m not hiding anything. They (UN investigators) can come in anytime if they want so they can see for themselves whether or not reports these jerks among our countrymen are giving them are true,” Dela Rosa said.

OPLAN TOKHANG
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