Dela Rosa on Ombudsman case: I'm willing to go to jail if proven guilty

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa (file photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — PNP top brass Ronald Dela Rosa on Monday said he's ready to go to jail if he's found guilty by the Ombudsman of violating ethical standards, following controversy over a trip to the U.S. paid for by Senator Manny Pacquiao.

Dela Rosa said his "respect" for the Office of the Ombudsman "remains" - but he is "man enough to go to jail if proven guilty".

"Kung talagang lalabas sa investigation na ako'y may kasalanang nagawa, I'm ready to go to jail. Kung ikulong nila ako, okay lang sa akin. Magpapakulong ako," he said in a press briefing.

"Basta what is important is that I am honest. Hindi po ako nagsisinungaling. Sinabi ko po 'yung katotohanan para transparent."  

[Translation: If the investigation will prove that I've done something wrong,  I'm ready to go to jail. If they imprison me, that's fine with me. I'm willing to go to jail. But what is important is that I am honest. I did not lie. I revealed the truth so that I will be transparent.]

Also read: Ombudsman probes PNP chief over all-expense paid Las Vegas trip

Dela Rosa has admitted that he and his family traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada in early November on the invitation of Pacquiao who paid for all their travel expenses.

The boxing legend-turned-senator was successful in his bid for another world title against American boxer Jessie Vargas on November 6.

Dela Rosa also dismissed claims that the Ombudsman probe may be "politically motivated," saying that he wants to fulfill his duty as a policeman rather than engaging in politics.

"Hindi ko po pinapasok sa utak ko 'yan. Otherwise, baka magiging politiko ako. Iniisip ko, ako ay isang pulis na nagseserbisyo sa bayan. Kung nagkakamali 'yung aking desisyon or mali 'yung aking ginawa, I'm ready to accept the consequences of my actions," he said.

[Translation: I don't think of that. Otherwise, I might as well become a politician. What's running in my mind is that I am a policeman who serves the country. If I make the wrong decisions or deeds, I'm ready to accept the consequences of my actions.]

Dela Rosa said he has no regrets over the trip to Las Vegas, since he was able to spend "quality time" with his family "for free."

"At least masaya 'yung pamilya ko at hindi 'yung kinorrupt na pera. At hindi ko po hiningi 'yun (all-expense paid trip). Kusang loob ni binigay, in-offer ng aking kaibigan, ng aking kompadre, aking kompare na si Senador Manny Pacquiao. As far as I'm concerned, malinis po ang aking konsensiya," he said. 

[Translation: At least my family is happy and the money I used was not from corrupt practices. I did not ask for it (all-expense paid trip). It was voluntarily given, offered by my friend, kompare Sen. Manny Pacquiao. As far as I'm concerned, my conscience is clean.]


Dela Rosa also revealed he "started as an amateur boxer," who shared Pacquiao's "passion" for the sport.

"Hindi pa siya senador, hindi pa siya congressman, 'yung ordinary boxer pa lang siya, hindi pa siya masyadong sikat. Kasi may age gap naman kami. Hindi kami magkababata. Kami ay parehong mga Bisaya, parehong mahirap, parehong boxer," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: He's not yet a senator, he's not yet a congressman, he was still an ordinary boxer, he wasn't popular yet. We have an age gap. We are not childhood friends. We are both from the Visayas, we both came from poverty, we are both boxers.]

"He started as an amateur boxer, I also started as an amateur boxer. Bago ako pumasok sa PMA (Philippine Military Academy), amateur boxer na po ako... Parehong-pareho kami sa buhay na parang 'yung boxing ay isang posibleng avenue na aangat ang buhay namin. Pareho kami ng passion," he said.

[Translation: He started as an amateur boxer, I also started as an amateur boxer. Before I entered PMA, I was an amateur boxer. We have many similarities in life, and we both see boxing as a possible avenue to help us rise from poverty. We have the same passion.]

Mary Rawnsle Lopez, acting director of the Ombudsman's Public Information and Media Relations Bureau, confirmed to CNN that they are "conducting a fact-finding investigation regarding the alleged travel perks received by the PNP chief when he went to Las Vegas."

Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees prohibits public officials and employees from accepting "any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by, the functions of their office."

Meanwhile, Major General Ramon Farolan, former commanding general of the Philippine Air Force and a senior fraternity brother of Dela Rosa, said the trip was ill-timed.

"In any war, it is difficult to justify taking any kind of leave," Farolan wrote in an opinion piece entitled "An open letter to 'Bato' dela Rosa" published Monday in the national broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The "war" the former general was referring to is the Duterte administration's war against illegal drugs, of which Dela Rosa is spearheading.

"Sometimes a vacation can be so out of place, particularly when people around us are losing their lives," Farolan added.

"You have been entrusted with a difficult and controversial mission. The success or failure of your work could mean the lives and the welfare of thousands of our citizens from all walks of life," the general wrote.

Arms deal a go

Meanwhile, Dela Rosa said President Rodrigo Duterte has given the green light to the ongoing gun deal with the United States.

In last week's trip to Malaysia, Dela Rosa said he reported to the President that the processing of the documents is "going smoothly." This followed a pronouncement by Duterte that he was calling the deal off, after a US senator raised objections to it with the State Department in October.

Also read: Duterte scraps gun deal with U.S.

"As far as the PNP is concerned, we have the blessings from the President to continue on with the transaction kung walang harang [if there will be no hurdles]," Dela Rosa said.

But the police chief warned another flip-flop on the decision could happen if other objections were raised.

"I'm sure the President will again tell me to stop it. Kasi, 'yun nga, para naman tayong kawawa na hinaharang, tapos makikusap na magmamakaawa. Hindi po 'yan pupuwede sa atin," he said. "Babayaran namin ito. Hindi naman namin hinihingi so we should get the fair and equal treatment. This is business." 

[Translation: I'm sure the President will again tell me to stop it. Because, as it is, it's as if we're begging, when they're already hindering the arms deal, then we'll talk to them and plead. That won't do. We are going to pay for this. We are not asking this for free so we should get the fair and equal treatment. This is business.]