Questions for the man called ‘Bato’

“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.” -Henri Nouwen

NEW YORK CITY – I saw on social media that retired Philippine National Police (PNP) director general Ronald Marapon “Bato” dela Rosa visited Iloilo City before the All Saints’ Day and was interviewed by my media colleagues.

I have long wanted to interview retired general Bato even when he was still the PNP chief.

Now that he has retired and is running for senator, I am more emboldened to interview him as a candidate Mr. Bato.

I hope we can meet soon–in the US, where he was once invited by his kumpare, Senator Manny Pacquiao, to watch the boxer’s fight in Las Vegas, or in the Philippines, where is now busy “campaigning” for his senatorial bid–before, during, or after the May 2019 elections.

Since the possibility of this meeting, nay interview, remains hanging by a thread for the time being, I would like to pose here some of the possible questions I might throw at the bubbly 56-year-old senatorial candidate from Davao del Sur in the event I’ll be lucky to bump him anytime.

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Here are some of my questions for retired General Bato:

–When you assumed as PNP director general on July 1, 2016, you reechoed the promise made by President Duterte, your No. 1 endorser, that you would arrest or neutralize all the drug lords in the Philippines in the first six months.

Records show that you failed to deliver that promise. Can you comment on this, sir?

–In tears, you vowed to resign if you can’t fulfill your promise to the Filipino people. You did tender your resignation belatedly, but President Duterte rejected it. He even extended your term as the PNP big boss.

What did you do in the remaining months that your term was extended to redeem yourself after you failed to bag the biggest crooks or the “barracudas” in illegal drug trade, who remain at large as of this writing, in the Philippines?

–After you retired as PNP director general on April 19, 2018, your patron President Duterte “gifted” you with a position as director of the Bureau of Corrections from April 30, 2018 until October 12, 2018.

In the six months that you were the big boss of the country’s biggest jail where some of the most prominent convicted criminals, including the top drug lords, are detained, what changes–if there are some–have you introduced to improve the jail and management system in the country’s premier corrections facility that houses hundreds of hardened criminals?

–You are pushing for the restoration of death penalty, you said in your media interviews. Is your stand on this subject matter influenced by what you discovered in the Bureau of Corrections during the six months of your directorship? Do you believe that the National Bilibid Prison is overcrowded and incapable of accommodating more inmates and the only solution to this “problem” is exterminate those who have been convicted of heinous crimes?

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We already have an idea of your answer to this next question, but I must still ask this, nevertheless, in a hope that you can shed light on this very controversial issue especially now that you are “on your own” and seeking the blessings of the Filipino electorate for a very important position in the country’s highest legislature.

–Did the police engage in summary executions or extra-judicial killings (EKJ) when you were the PNP director general? If your answer is NO, how do you explain the scandalous killings of thousands of suspected drug addicts in the slum areas and the murders of suspected illegal drug traffickers not yet charged formally in court?

If your answer is YES (which we know you won’t admit), will you pin the blame on the Commander in Chief, President Duterte and claim, as a defense, that you were only an underling and receiving orders as a “good soldier”? Or you will own the “command responsibility” and be open and willing to be subjected to any lawful and fair investigation?

And, if elected in the senate, are you willing to cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which investigates the cases of thousands of alleged EKJ victims in the Philippines involving mostly “tambays” or poor suspected drug addicts and “small time” drug pushers?

Hoping to see you soon, General Bato.

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