PNP Chief confirms 'palit-ulo' scheme, clarifies procedure

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The country's police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa on Monday confirmed a police scheme in the war against drugs, but clarified it was far from what the Vice President claimed it to be.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Dela Rosa confirmed the "palit-ulo" scheme is practiced in the police force.

"Palit-ulo" involves the filing of a case with lighter charges against a suspect who comes forward to give information on his or her drug supplier or the mastermind of a drug syndicate, Dela Rosa said in a press briefing at the police headquarters in Camp Crame.

"Palit-ulo wherein ikaw nahuli kita, may drugs, pusher ka... Palit-ulo. Ilaglag mo kung sino ang supplier mo o drug lord na nasa taas. Kapag masabi mo yan, hindi naman actually palalayain depende na kung for a lesser offense," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: Palit-ulo wherein if you are a pusher or caught with drugs, you will name your supplier or drug lord you are reporting to. If you name them, we will not necessarily let you go, but you may be charged for a lesser offense.]

In a video message aired during annual meeting of the 60th United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs last March 17, Vice President Leni Robredo claimed the "palit-ulo" scheme, which means "exchange heads," is done when the police takes into custody the partner or relative of a person in their so-called drug list if the person himself could not be found.

Related: Robredo: Warrantless searches, 'palit-ulo' scheme in anti-drug operations

But Dela Rosa vehemently denied that Robredo's definition of "palit-ulo" exists.

"Iharap mo sa akin ang pulis na yan at susuntukin ko sa mukha yang pulis na yan sa harap mo. Iharap mo sa akin kung meron yan. Hindi ko pababayan ang ganyang klaseng ginagawa, kung ginagawa yan," he said.

[Translation: Bring me that police and I will punch him in the face in front of you. Bring the cop to me, if it truly exists. I will not let them get away with it.]

Robredo said on Saturday her claim on the "palit-ulo" scheme was factual.

"Iyong statement mismo, matagal na iyon at very factual iyon. Iyong statement na iyon galing sa mga kwento din na pinapaabot sa opisina. In fact, sumubok kaming humingi ng datos sa DILG at saka sa PNP as early as January pa. Pero ang sulat kasi namin hindi sinagot. So hindi din namin alam kung saan na kami lalapit. Kasi ang mga tao naman na lumalapit sa amin humihingi ng proteksyon, humihingi ng tulong. Alangan naman wala kaming gawin," she said.

[Translation: The statement itself was recorded a long time ago and it was very factual. The statement came from the stories sent to our office. In fact, we tried to ask for data from the DILG and PNP in early January. But our letters remained unanswered. So we didn't know where to go because the people were asking our office for help and protection. We can't not act on it.]

Related: PNP to Robredo: Give specific incidents of alleged 'palit-ulo' scheme