Meet Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa, chief of police and the world’s new hide and seek champion — but only for speed, not really results.
Just 24 hours after vowing a thorough search for secret detention cells across the nation he’s discovered that there are none. Zero. Zip. (Nothing to see here.)
It’s quite remarkable that such an exacting, exhaustive search of thousands of police facilities could have been conducted so quickly.
The Nazis were no slouches when it came to internal security, and it took them years to discover Anne Frank’s family (whose bunker was hidden behind a bookcase).
Bato’s search was launched after it was discovered that a police station in the heart of Manila was holding 12 men and women in a tiny, squalid secret cell (which was also hidden behind a bookcase).
His first reaction to the discovery by the government’s human rights watchdog was to angrily accuse them of trying to embarrass the country in the run-up to the ASEAN summit in Manila.
He then defended the officers involved, saying they had merely found a “creative” solution to prison overcrowding and were doing nothing illegal.
Later, he backtracked, and conceded that their illegal and unconstitutional detention was wrong, saying his earlier remarks had been driven by “emotion” — describing his response as “like a father defending his children”.
He then announced a nationwide audit, promising a root-to-branch, uncompromising inspection of all police properties to weed out any other secret detention facilities.
And in just one day, this search is apparently complete.
I can’t find a reliable figure for the number of police stations in the Philippines — but let’s suppose each one has an average of 10 members of staff. There are 160,000 people employed by the police, so (being generous) shall we assume there are about 1,500 police facilities nationwide?
That’s more stations than there are minutes in the day.
So, how well could they have been inspected? Was every bookcase moved aside? Every maintenance hatch opened? Every ‘disused’ garage peered into? Were they even visited? If so, that would require the most remarkably efficient deployment of resources and personnel that would put countries like Switzerland to shame.
Obviously, it never happened. It’s an utter absurdity for Bato to claim that in just one day he’s been able to confirm that the Black Hole of Manila was the only one of its kind in the country. Perhaps he just phoned his 13 regional chiefs and told them to double-lock their bookcases. Who knows?
Whichever way, it’s insulting to the intelligence of anybody who cares about the rule of law and constitution of this country for him to say he’s achieved this audit in just one day.
But having said that, does anyone care?
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