A mano a mano – that was what incoming Philippine National Police head Chief Supt. Ronaldo ‘Bato’ De la Rosa proposed to the drug lords housed in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), after hearing reports of the prisoners raising the bounty to P 1 billion of killing him and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
As part of his campaign against drugs, Duterte declared that a P5 million bounty awaits those who can capture a drug lord, dead or alive. Since then, there have been reports of convicted drug lords in NBP pricing the bounties for both De la Rosa’s and Duterte’s heads. The bounty initially started at P10 million, which increased up to P50 million, and have now reached P1 billion.
In a press briefing at the PNP Intelligence Group compound in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Tuesday, June 14, De la Rosa also proposed that the anticipated bounty should be turned into pot money instead.
“I have a proposal for them. That P1-billion bounty, let’s turn that into pot money. There are 20 of you Chinese drug lords or whoever drug lords are there: I challenge you to a [quick] draw. Man versus man.
I will face them one by one. Then if I’m lucky enough to beat 20, the pot money will go to me. And that pot money of P1 billion, I will donate. I will determine the region here in the Philippines with the most number of drug addicts, and have a rehabilitation center built there,” De la Rosa said in Filipino.
He also disclosed some intelligence reports he received, stating that these convicted drug lords had increased the bounty for him and Duterte to even the score.
De la Rosa, nicknamed ‘Bato’ for his built, also announced that Vitaliano Aguirre, the incoming secretary of Department of Justice (DOJ), has requested for a police Special Action Force (SAF) battalion to help guard the nation’s top-security prison. It is known that the DOJ commands over the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), which runs the Bilibid.
In response to the request, De la Rosa expressed that aside from his agreement, he also wanted to send an army battalion so the drug lords would not get too familiarized with the SAF in charge.
However, he mentioned that he could not promise a permanent deployment, as there is still a need for troops to be on field. He suggested that Aguirre should replace the prison guards as well.
“It’s better if they’re new so we know they’re well-selected, and that the background investigation on them is strict. Let’s make the standards of their recruitment process more strict than that for the police,” he said.
De la Rosa also expressed his intention of banning all communication equipment inside the reformatory, as there have been reports of prisoners removing BuCor’s cellular signal jammers in favor of installing cell signal boosters in its place. He joked that the convicts should just resort to mental telepathy instead.