Dela Rosa to Bilibid SAF: 'If you accept bribes, I'll shoot you'

MANILA, Philippines – Reject bribes or get shot.

This was the warning of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa to the new Special Action Force (SAF) troopers assigned to guard the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

"Kapag you let me down, ako babaril sa inyo kapag kayo ay tatanggap ng bribery diyan sa loob. Is that clear? You must stand tall. Palagi tayong pakita natin pagka-elite sa lahat ng bagay," Dela Rosa said on Tuesday, February 6, addressing the newly assigned elite cop battalion.

(If you let me down, I will shoot you if you accept bribes inside. Is that clear? You must stand tall. We should always show we are elite in all aspects.)

The PNP SAF team guarding Bilibid is replaced every 6 months, beginning July 2016. They patrol the maximum security compound and  Building 14 – areas where the biggest drug lords operate.

After almost two years guarding the prison, the PNP's elite force has failed to break the drug trade. (READ: Illegal drugs found in Bilibid even after SAF takeover)

The newest batch, headed by Chief Inspector Christopher Mendoza, is the 4th battalion to be deployed to the state penitentiary, and will be on duty until July 2018.

Dela Rosa emphasized that the SAF – branded as "tagaligtas (savior)" by the PNP –  should be able to handle drug lords more than other police units. (READ: Inside Bilibid: Resurgence, resignation, 'recanting')

"Kayo na pinakamagaling, malinis, at matino at inaasahan ng PNP – kung kayo ay masisira, wala na akong mapupuntahan. Lugmok na tayo; ang PNP. Wala ng ibang maaasahan," Dela Rosa added.

(You are the most skilled, cleanest, and honest – the PNP depends on you. If you get ruined, I won't have anyone else to turn to. The PNP would be hopeless. There will be no one else we can rely on.) –

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.