Police hailed for operation that killed 2 'ninja cops' after Duterte's bounty offer

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 21) — The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday praised the Philippine National Police (PNP) for "neutralizing" two cops allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

The agency noted that the operation that resulted in the deaths of PO3 Ronald Bernardo and PO2 Maria Oliver Olaso in Zamboanga City last Saturday was done "barely 24 hours after" President Rodrigo Duterte offered a ₱5 million reward money for the head of each "ninja cop" – a term used for a police officer involved in illegal drugs operations.

"My commendations to the good cops of Zamboanga City for nailing the bad cops who taint the name and image of our organization," Interior Officer-In-Charge Eduardo Año said in a statement.

Bernardo and Olaso were killed "when they shot it out with their colleagues during an operation," the DILG said. They were accused of reselling seized drugs.

PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde on Monday assured that police officers will never benefit from the President's offer of reward money to avoid the rise of bounty hunters. It is not immediately known if citizens would be receiving money for giving information on Bernardo and Olaso.

Año called on drug-linked cops to "leave the police service or face the consequences of your action." He said they could also confess their involvement and subject themselves to due process.

Duterte on Friday night also urged "ninja cops" to just surrender within 48 hours, but no one yielded to the President's call, Albayalde noted.

The President clarified he was not asking people to kill cops, but offered a scant amount - P10,000 - for anyone who could bring him a bad cop "alive."

"Wala akong sinabing patayin mo, pero pag dinala mong buhay bigyan kitang diyes mil," he said.

[Translation: "I did not say you should kill, but if you bring them to me alive I'll give you ?10,000."]

The Commission on Human Rights and other groups have since condemned the President's statement and called on him to value people's lives.

Duterte, who has publicly lashed out at errant cops, earlier put the bounty for "ninja cops" at ₱2 million, then raised it to ₱3 million.

A total of 58 uniformed personnel have been arrested for their involvement in drugs since Duterte assumed office in July 2016, government data show. The DILG said more than 6,000 police officers and uniformed personnel have been sacked, demoted or suspended for various offenses.