Philippines police chief Dela Rosa hints at possible run for presidency

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa at the PNP headquarters in Quezon City, Philippines, on Oct 24, 2017.
Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa at the PNP headquarters in Quezon City, Philippines, on Oct 24, 2017.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippines' top police chief, who oversaw a bloody war on drugs that has killed thousands of Filipinos, hinted on Monday (Oct 30) at a possible run for the presidency.

Philippines police director-general Ronald dela Rosa, a stocky, celebrity-like figure nicknamed "Bato" (Rock), who retires in 2018, has flagged his political ambitions, saying he was open to running for the Senate.

But in a speech after a flag-raising ceremony at police headquarters, director-general Dela Rosa for the first time publicly suggested he may have his sights set on higher political goals.

"Wait for Bato to become president and I will quadruple your salaries," director-general Dela Rosa told his men as he denied rumours he would leave retirees out of planned salary increases.

Director-general Dela Rosa is among those touted by the national media as Mr Duterte's possible successor in 2022, along with world boxing champion and senator Manny Pacquiao and the son and namesake of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Director-general Dela Rosa has acted as the enforcer for the firebrand leader's war on drugs, which had led to more than 3,900 people killed in 16 months.

The campaign has sparked outrage abroad, but domestic polls have shown crime-weary Filipinos are largely supportive of the measure.

Mr Duterte ordered the police this month to halt activities in the war on drugs and leave all operations to the drug enforcement agency, amid unprecedented scrutiny of police conduct.

Police reject allegations by activists they are executing suspected drug users and dealers, saying victims in their anti-narcotics operations were killed because they were armed and had violently resisted arrest.