PNP Chief Dir. Gen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Senator Leila de Lima. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS
MANILA, Philippines — Senatorial candidate Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, a former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said on Wednesday that Sen. Leila de Lima criticized his joke about Oplan Tokhang out of envy.
At the sidelines of a PDP-Laban sortie in Marikina, Dela Rosa said that De Lima was furious because people were not happy to see her, supposedly a stark contrast to the crowd’s reaction whenever he would take centerstage.
“Sabihin mo kay De Lima: Ma’am, sabi ni Bato, nainggit ka lang daw sa kanya dahil ‘pag nakita siya ng tao tumatawa masaya ang tao. ‘Pag ikaw siguro ang nakikita naka-simangot ang tao sa’yo,” Dela Rosa told reporters.
[Tell De Lima: Ma’am, Bato said, you are envious of him because every time people see him they’re happy. When it’s you they see, maybe people will frown.]
In a previous campaign sortie in Calamba City, Laguna, Dela Rosa jokingly told the audience that those who would not applaud him would be subjected to Tokhang, a part of the PNP campaign against illegal drugs, which has resulted in thousands of deaths.
De Lima took offense at the joke, saying it was insensitive of Dela Rosa when a lot of Filipino families whose relatives had died due to the war on drugs were still grieving.
“Libu-libong kababayan natin ang napaslang sa Oplan Tokhang at patuloy pa ring nabibiktima ng pekeng kampanya laban sa droga ng rehimeng Duterte. Tila ba normal na lang talaga kay dating PNP Chief De la Rosa ang karahasang dulot nito kaya ganoon na lang kadali para sa kanya na gawin itong biro,” the senator said in a statement.
[Thousands of our countrymen died because of Oplan Tokhang and many continue to be victimized by this fake campaign against drugs of the Duterte regime. It seems that the violence it brings has become normal for former PNP chief Dela Rosa so that it‘s easy for him to make such a joke.]
“But it’s neither funny nor amusing,” she explained. “Only sick people would dare make a joke out of Tokhang and its innocent victims for the sake of gaining public attention and securing votes in the upcoming midterm elections. So insensitive!”
READ: De Lima hits Bato’s ‘insensitive, not funny’ tokhang joke
However, Dela Rosa chided De Lima for being shallow, saying that the audience was not offended by the joke.
He also clarified that, contrary to the senator’s mindset, Tokhang — a contraction of “toktok” or to knock and Visayan word “hangyo” or to plead — is not about killing drug suspects.
“Ang babaw niya. Sabihan mo: ‘Ma’am, ang babaw mo sabi ni Bato,” Dela Rosa said. “Wala siya doon sa audience eh. Tanungin niya ‘yong audience kung nainsulto ‘yong audience. Kung nainsulto ‘yong audience hihingi ako ng tawad […] pumapalakpak pa nga eh. Tumatalon pa ‘yong iba sa tuwa.”
[She’s shallow. Tell her: Ma’am, you’re shallow, Bato said. She wasn’t in the audience. She should ask the audience if they were insulted. If the audience was insulted I would apologize… But they were even applauding. Some were even jumping up for joy.]
“Sa kanya siguro [insensitive], dahil ang iniisip kasi niya kapag Tokhang, patay. ‘Yan ‘yong mga utak ng mga tao na ‘yan. Puro patay ang iniisip. Hindi naman pagpatay ang Tokhang — katok, pakiusap […] D’yan siya nagkakamali,” he added.
[For her, maybe it’s insensitive because when she thinks of Tokhang she thinks of death. That’s the thinking of people like her. All they think of are killings. But Tokhang is not about killing. It means “knock, plead”… That’s where they’re wrong.]
Dela Rosa led the administration’s war on drugs as the first PNP chief appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to government data, more than 5,000 drug suspects have been killed in police operations.
De Lima and other opposition groups claim, however, that the true number may be around 11,000 to 30,000 slain suspects. /atm
READ: Gov’t: 72 killed in January 2019 drug ops; total hits 5,176
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