Bato ad on crime needs context

Written by
University of the Philippines Journalism Department
Last modified
Thursday, April 11, 2019 - 23:07
Screenshot from Bato dela Rosa political ad

The official TV ad of Senate bet Bato Dela Rosa claiming credit for reducing the country’s volume of index crimes by 49 percent needs context.

The advertisement, posted March 1 on a Facebook page describing itself as Dela Rosa’s official page, said:

Dahil kay Bato dela Rosa, bumaba ang krimen. Nabago ang buhay ng mga nasa mundo ng droga.

The 30-second ad, however, gave no time frame for the 49 percent drop in index crime volume it highlighted and thus no clear basis for comparison.

Index crimes refer to serious crimes against person (murder, physical injury, rape, homicide, and theft) and property (robbery, theft, carnapping and cattle rustling).

Data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) show a 48.7 percent decrease in index crime volume only when measured daily from July 1 to August 7, 2016 or the first five weeks of war on drugs.

In August 2016, Dela Rosa, then PNP chief, himself would cite a 49 percent “historic reduction” but only in the daily average crime volume, not index crimes. The crime volume consists of both index crimes and non-index crimes or less serious offenses.

In a speech at the police service’s 115th anniversary celebration, Dela Rosa said:

I would like to report that according to our director for investigation and detective management, our daily average crime volume since July 1 has gone down to 49 percent. Historic yan, historic reduce, reduction of crime rate, crime volume, daily average crime volume, 49 percent.

Dela Rosa was PNP chief from July 2016 to April 2018.

From July to December 2016, the PNP recorded 63,690 index crimes, a 33.51 percent decrease from 96,198 incidents in the same period in 2015.

A report from the Office of the President said index crimes dropped 29.07 percent from 124,477 cases from July 2016 to June 2017 to 88,293 cases for the same period a year after.

Index crimes went down to 26,120 or by 32.28 percent for the period of January to April 2018, compared to 38,570 cases recorded in the same period the year before.

A total of 6,156 index crimes were listed in April 2018 when Dela Rosa retired from service. This was a 46.5 percent drop from the 11,503 index crimes tracked in June 2016, a month before his appointment.

Dela Rosa’s campaign ad is accurate in stating 1.3 million drug offenders had surrendered, if it meant the surrenders from July 2016 to April 2018 when he was PNP chief. According to PNP’s annual reports in 2016 and 2017, a total of 1,258,597 million drug pushers and users turned themselves in.

The PNP, however, was not always at the helm of the Duterte administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

In October 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte sidelined the PNP from his war on drugs and handed over sole responsibility to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. The PNP returned to the drug war two months later, with PDEA still as the lead agency.

Dela Rosa’s official TV ad employs association and dramatization. It emphasizes Dela Rosa’s association with Duterte who is shown raising the candidate’s hand at the end of the video.

The ad features a layout and computer-generated effects inspired by comic books, most notably referencing Mars Ravelo’s “Darna” and her use of a glowing “bato” (stone) to transform. The storyline and cinematography also recall classic Filipino action films.

As drug addicts portrayed like zombies chase innocent civilians through dark alleys, Dela Rosa, just like “Darna,” is summoned using a stone to fight the drug addicts.


ABS-CBN News. (2016, August 19). 'Bato' reports 'historic' crime rate reduction [Video file]. Retrieved from, watch from 6:46-7:22

ABS-CBN News. (2017, December 5). PDEA welcomes PNP return in drug war. ABS-CBN News. Retrieved from

Office of the President. (2017, December 5). Directing the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies to resume providing active support to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations (Memorandum Order No. 17). Retrieved from

Office of the President. (2017, October 10). Implementation of Republic Act 9165 otherwise known as the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002." Retrieved from

Office of the President-Presidential Management Staff. (2018). The president’s report to the people 2016-2018 [PDF version]. Retrieved from

Placido, D. (2017, December 5). In new memo, Duterte reassigns PNP to join drug war. ABS-CBN News. Retrieved from

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Philippine National Police. (2016). Annual report 2016 [PDF file]. Retrieved from

Philippine National Police. (2016, October 3). Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights Hearing on Extrajudicial Killing [PDF file]. Retrieved from

Philippine National Police. (2017). Annual report 2017 [PDF file]. Retrieved from

Philippine National Police. (2018). Statistics on crime incidents referred/processed/gathered by Reporting Police Officers. (PROs) PNP blotter only. Retrieved from

Presidential Communications Operations Office. (2017, October 11). Duterte orders PDEA to lead campaign against illegal drugs [News release]. Retrieved from

Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa. (2019, March 1). Sharing our official tv ad for Bato [Video file]. Retrieved from


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