PNP Chief: Use of religious items in anti-drug campaign not theatrics

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(File Photo) Philippine National Police Chief General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 5) — The country's chief of police denied that they were using religious items as props in the war against drugs.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald Dela Rosa on Monday responded to the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) statement, where it accused the police of resorting to theatrics in bringing Bibles and rosaries while conductiong Oplan Tokhang operations.

"Ginawa na nga namin ito lahat para ipakita sa inyo na totoo ang aming ginagawa...kami ay maka-Diyos tapos sabihin niyo theatrics," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: We did this to show you that what we are doing is real...and we are Godly but you say it's theatrics.]

Dela Rosa also said the Catholic Church was not only for the clergy.

"Wow. Kayo lang ang banal, porke't kayo ang mga pari, kami mga makasalanan na, hindi kami karapat dapat maghawak ng Bibliya at magsuot ng rosaryo?" he added.

[Translation: Wow. You are the only ones who are holy because you care priests and we are sinners we have no right to hold a Bible and wear a rosary?]

Dela Rosa said he was disappointed by the Church, adding he could not blame anyone for leaving the Roman Catholic religion because of this.

CBCP to PNP: Follow the law

In their statement last week, the CBCP said the police should take out "theatrics" and "exaggeration" when doing their duties and stick to the job at hand.

Earlier, the Eastern Police District said police taking part in the government's anti-illegal drug campaign would be bringing Bibles and rosaries, hoping these items would help convince suspects to surrender peacefully.

"Bringing those religious items during police operations is good only for theatrics. They are not essentially necessary," said Fr. Jerome Secillano, CBCP executive secretary of the Committee on Public Affairs.

He added police should follow the guidelines set with or without the use of religious items.

RELATED: New guidelines 'encourage' police to use body cameras in drug ops

Oplan Tokhang, the government's flagship anti-illegal drugs campaign was relaunched on January 29, and the police said there were no casualties in the intelligence-gathering operation so far.

READ: PNP: Bloodless first week for Oplan Tokhang

New guidelines on the drive said no operations would be conducted at night and on weekends, and police were encouraged to use body cams in operations.

RELATED: New PNP guidelines ban Oplan Tokhang at night, weekends

The PNP said the new rules will promote transparency and safety both for the suspects and the so-called Tokhangers, or police officers involved in operations.