I am ready to die’ — Dela Rosa

The country’s former top cop said to a gathering of 1,200 barangay captains from Luzon visiting Davao City that he was “ready to die” in the service of the nation, particularly in the fight against what he described was the country’s pervasive illegal drugs problem.

Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General and now Bureau of Corrections chief, said he no longer feared threats, even death in the hands of criminals, having lived a full life.

“My children are grown and responsible,” he said, adding that he has accomplished his modest goals in life.

“So my message to all you drug lords contemplating on doing me harm,” he said in the vernacular, “bring it on.”

Dela Rosa has been at the forefront of the Duterte Administration’s aggressive war on drugs. Since the campaign began upon the president’s assumption of office in 2016, numerous drug rehabilitation centers have been established in addition to existing ones, millions of confessed drug users have voluntarily given themselves up to authorities, and thousands of hostile suspects have been arrested or killed.

But the problem has continued to fester, dela Rosa said, because of the sheer power and complexity of the illegal drug trade.

“These people (referring to Filipinos and foreigners tagged by government as drug kingpins) have so much money,” he said. And their illegal operations have been well-oiled and efficient for decades, it will take drastic measures to end, or at least minimise them.

Such measures, he added, have already been made by law enforcement. These include busting local drug rings and disrupting communication lines inside the New Bilibid Prison, a known lair of the country’s most notorious drug operators.

And these relentless actions have frustrated and agitated the criminals, he said, to the conceivable point of wanting him out of the way.

“But I am not afraid of you,” dela Rosa said, promising to do even more harm to the narcotics trade “to protect my countrymen.”

The retired 4-star general was Guest of Honor at a congress last Thursday of barangay officials and Sangguniang Kabataan presidents from Quezon Province.