Stop planting evidence, Dela Rosa tells cops

MANILA, Philippines – Avoid planting drugs as evidence. 

This was the message the country's top cop wanted to instill in the minds of policemen who are at the forefront of the so-called war against illegal drugs.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Wednesday, August 23, even urged policemen to follow due process, and refrain from rushing and ending up with extrajudicial killings.

"Iwasan niyo na 'yung style na taniman ng droga yung suspect dahil gusto niyo kaagad na ma-eliminate sa scheme ng drug business (Avoid the practice of planting drugs because you want to eliminate them immediately in the drug business)," Dela Rosa said in his address at the 116th PNP Service Anniversary in Central Visayas.

He told them to be patient, and to do their job within the law, even if it meant continuously locking up suspects only to see them free the next day. (READ: In the PH drug war, it's likely EJK when...)

"Dahil kayo ay pagod na, alam n'yo 'yang taong 'yan ay labas pasok sa kulungan. Sige lang, huli (Because you are tired and you know that they go in and go out the jail. Just keep on arresting them)...God is watching us," Dela Rosa said.

"Mas maganda 'yung kinasing kasing na trabaho at pagserbisyo (It is better that you do your job and service wholeheartedly)," Dela Rosa added. (READ: Crime and due process: Is there room for dialogue and compromise?)

His warning comes as the PNP's anti-drug operation is under intense public pressure in the past week because of the record-high number of deaths. Among those killed was 17-year-old Kian delos Santos whose case has since sparked public outrage after reports and investigations indicate that the teenager was a victim of an extrajudicial killing.

In a press conference that followed the event, Dela Rosa dismissed reports that said the PNP was eyeing an "emerging drug lord" in Eastern Visayas. The top cop said he meant Western Visayas, and said a new group replaced the Odicta family, which were formerly linked the illegal drug trade.

After scolding his cops in his speech, Dela Rosa came to their defense against allegations that the police engaged in the "dagdag-bawas" (add-subtract) scheme. The illegal practice meant those identified as drug suspects paid policemen to have their names removed from the government watchlist.

"We are doing our best. Binubuwis nga buhay namin dito, tapos gagawa pa kami kalokohan? (We are putting our lives on the line here, and you think we are doing foolish things?) That’s very bad,’ he added. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.