An open letter to ‘Bato’ dela Rosa
Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp Crame, Quezon City
First of all, allow me to address you by your nickname. As a senior member of the oldest fraternity in the country of which you are part, I trust it would not be presumptuous for me to do so.
Several months ago, before your appointment to the position of chief, PNP, an appointment that made you the top cop in the organization, I wrote about you to provide our people with some idea of the incoming PNP leadership.
You graduated from the Philippine Military Academy with the Class of 1986, the first class to come out of the Academy after the Edsa Revolution that ended years of authoritarian rule. Among your classmates were Cadet Rozzano Briguez of Cebu, the first captain or baron, who is now a major general and the chief of Air Staff in the Philippine Air Force; Cadet Gilbert Gapay of Tarlac, the class valedictorian now awaiting star rank in the Philippine Army; Cadet Gaudencio Collado Jr., now a rear admiral and the chief of Naval Staff in the Philippine Navy. Cadet Francisco Baraquel, the Journalism awardee of the class and husband of Sen. Risa Hontiveros, also belongs to the same batch. He passed away several years ago.
You are the first in the class to attain four-star rank. In doing so, you jumped over the heads of several senior classes in a process known as “deep selection.” To your credit, there were no heated protests.
Graduating No. 22 out of 174 in the class indicated your excellence in academic and military training. In my case, I finished in the middle of our class, the Class of 1956. I struggled with mathematics and had to take finals in my plebe and yearling (first and second) years.
(For the benefit of our readers, finals in the Academy are the equivalent of removals in most other colleges and universities. But in the case of the Academy, failure in the finals means repetition of the whole year, if not dismissal.)
And there’s more. Taking the finals is a ceremony in itself: The designated uniform for the event is dress white, with white belt and bayonet and white gloves. As a plebe, you are “at ease” in the mess hall on the day of the finals.
“At ease” means you are not subjected to the usual harassment and orders from upperclassmen, although you continue to maintain proper decorum at the table. In the middle of the meal, the brigade-adjutant barks out the orders of the day and his final announcement is, “All cadets taking finals may leave the mess hall individually.” The finalists salute their table commander and proceed to the designated room for the last chance to remain in the corps.
I went through this agonizing ritual twice. Looking back, I wondered at times what I would be doing had I flunked.
Apparently you, Bato, breezed through the academics during your time at Fort Gregorio del Pilar.
I write this letter in connection with your recent trip to Las Vegas as a guest of Sen. Manny Pacquiao who shouldered all your expenses and that of the family, including travel and accommodations.
News reports indicate that the Ombudsman is conducting a fact-finding investigation to see if you violated Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. Under this law, public officials are barred from accepting any gift… or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties… or any transaction, which may be affected by the functions of their office. As we all know, the law can be interpreted in several ways, and depending on the appreciation of the circumstances surrounding the case, a decision is reached.
My concern about your Las Vegas trip is viewed from a different perspective.
We are in a bloody war against the proliferation of illegal drugs. In this war, President Duterte is commander in chief, and you, as head of the PNP, serve as his ground commander. In any war, it is difficult to justify taking any kind of leave.
Somehow I am reminded of a story about Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allied Forces in the invasion of Europe. On the sixth of June 1944, also known as “the longest day,” Eisenhower ordered the planned invasion to proceed. By coincidence, it was also the graduation day of his son John Eisenhower from West Point. He would have wanted to be with him, to shake his hand, to hug him, and to receive his first salute as a commissioned officer. Those are the kind of memories most fathers would treasure. But it was wartime, and he sacrificed this very personal joy and satisfaction to remain with the troops.
Three days after the invasion, he sent his wife Mamie a telegram. It read: “Due to previous engagement, it was impossible to be with you and John. But I thought of you both…. I know you understand.”
Sometimes a vacation can be so out of place, particularly when people around us are losing their lives.
Your image as a roly-poly figure, bald head with broad shoulders, similar to Mr. Clean in the soap advertisement, your sincere and straightforward and, at times, humorous, replies to questions at recent Senate hearings, and your respectful demeanor have endeared you to a large section of society. Treasure this image and do your best to merit the continuing support of our people.
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.
We wish you all the strength, wisdom and courage you need to accomplish the task at hand.
Ramon J. Farolan
Major General, AFP (Ret.)
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