Irked Philippine police chief tells subordinates: Talk to me, not the media

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa speaking during a senate hearing in Pasay city, Metro Manila, on Sept 15, 2016.
Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa speaking during a senate hearing in Pasay city, Metro Manila, on Sept 15, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines' police chief on Tuesday (Oct 25) reprimanded officers and some senior generals for raising concerns with journalists about the country's war on drugs, telling subordinates to talk to him instead - if they were brave enough.

Asked to comment on a Reuters Special Report published on Monday that highlighted widespread discrepancies in statistics related to President Rodrigo Duterte's drugs crackdown, Mr Ronald"Bato" dela Rosa appeared irked at the police and took a swipe at journalists for what he called "unfair" reporting.

"Talk to me, but don't go to the media to talk about those things," Mr dela Rosa told reporters. "Tell our men, the officers who had said this, if they had balls, they should talk to me."

Mr dela Rosa, whose nickname means "rock", said officers with grievances should tell their commanders or go to a panel dedicated to hearing internal complaints.

"They're undermining the efforts of the president," he said, warning of possible charges of insubordination for not using approved channels.

The Reuters report reviewed official government data and compiled interviews with Mr Duterte's top anti-drug officials, who said numbers on police deaths, total drug users, those needing treatment, the types of drugs consumed and the prevalence of drug-related crime were exaggerated, flawed or non-existent.

The same officials noted, however, that problematic statistics were not an issue, because the campaign focused attention on a long-neglected crisis in the Philippines.

Mr dela Rosa also lashed out at the media for using anonymous sources in stories. "That's the problem with you, you don't want to say who the source is," he said. "It's unfair if you work that way."