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Incoming PNP head Chief Supt. Ronald dela Rosa. JAYMEE T. GAMIL/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

INCOMING Philippine National Police head Chief Supt. Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa has challenged drug lords in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to a duel, following reports that the convicts have been raising up to P1 billion to have him and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte assassinated.
“I have a proposal for them. That P1-billion bounty, let’s turn that into pot money. There are 20 of you Chinese drug lords or whoever drug lords are there: I challenge you to a [quick] draw. Man versus man,” De la Rosa said in a press briefing on Tuesday at the PNP Intelligence Group compound in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
“I will face them one by one. Then if I’m lucky enough to beat 20, the pot money will go to me. And that pot money of P1 billion, I will donate it. I will determine the region here in the Philippines with the most number of drug addicts, and have a rehabilitation center built there,” De la Rosa, nicknamed “Bato” for his physique, said in Filipino.
The reports of bounties supposedly for De la Rosa’s and Duterte’s heads—starting at P10 million, climbing up to P50 million, and now reaching P1 billion—came out after Duterte publicly offered a
P5 million bounty for each drug lord, dead or alive, as part of the firebrand President’s campaign against narcotics and crime.

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De la Rosa himself revealed receiving intelligence reports that convicted drug lords in NBP had been raising the bounty for him and Duterte, in a bid to turn the tables.
He declined to confirm or deny reports identifying one of those drug lords as high-profile convict Peter Co, but when asked about reports that Co had been asking to be transferred to the Iwahig Penal Colony in Palawan, De la Rosa quipped: “You cannot run. You cannot hide. The long arm of the law will catch you, wherever you go.”
Meanwhile, De la Rosa confirmed reports that the incoming secretary of Department of Justice (DOJ), which has jurisdiction over the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) which runs Bilibid, has requested for a police Special Action Force (SAF) battalion to help guard the national penitentiary.
“I said yes, we can do that. I even suggested, to avoid familiarity, to also send an army battalion. After a period of time, [the SAF battalion] could be replaced by an Army battalion so the drug lords don’t get familiar [with the guards],” he said.
De la Rosa, however, could not commit a permanent deployment, pointing out that troops were also needed on the field. He, however, suggested to the incoming Justice secretary to replace the prison guards.
“It’s better if they’re new so we know they’re well-selected, and that the background investigation on them is strict. Let’s make the standards of their recruitment process more strict than that for the police,” he said.
De la Rosa said he had also proposed the outright ban of all communication equipment inside the penitentiary, citing reports the BuCor’s cellular signal jammers just get overturned by convicts installing cell signal boosters. “[The convicts] could just resort to mental telepathy,” De la Rosa quipped.

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