Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa on Friday night attended the premiere of Matteo Guidicelli's new film in which the actor portrays a Muslim member of the Special Action Force (SAF) tasked to investigate a human trafficking syndicate.
Dela Rosa turned out for the first showing of "Across the Crescent Moon," a film that also stars Christopher de Leon, Dina Bonnevie, Gabby Concepcion, Ivan Carapiet, Sandy Andolong and Joem Bascon. The premiere night was held at the Uptown Mall Cinemas in Taguig.
It is the second time in a matter of days the police chief has been spotted at an entertainment gathering, after he was seen at the Araneta Coliseum concert of Canadian hitmaker Bryan Adams.
This has sparked criticism, after it was revealed that cops allegedly murdered a kidnapped South Korean businessman inside Camp Crame.
It prompted calls for his resignation, with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez Jr. daring Dela Rosa to step down "to save President Rodrigo Duterte from further embarrassment."
"Matagal nang patay ang biktima noong nanood ako ng concert. Mabuhay ba ang Koreano kung hindi ako manood (The victim was when I attended the concert. Will he rise from the dead if I decided not to go)?" Dela Rosa said, responding to Alvarez.
Deflecting potentially more criticism over his appearance at a movie premiere, he told reporters at the sidelines that he only decided to go because he was invited.
Dela Rosa also said that the film could serve as a timely reminder of the heroics of the 44 policemen who were killed in action in an anti-terror operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015.
"Kinikilala ko po iyong kabayanihan ng aking mga tao kaya po nandito ako ngayon. Kung hindi ako inimbitahan eh hindi ako pupunta dito," he said. "But iyon nga, para naman bigyan pansin iyong kabayanihan ng mga namatay na pulis at nagbuwis ng buhay, ito, nandito ako ngayon."
"Panonoorin ko iyong pelikula na alay para sa kanila. Sana po huwag na itong bigyan ng masamang istorya. Iyon lang po ang sa akin," he added.
Meanwhile, Guidicelli, who was also present at the premiere, expressed his gratitude towards Dela Rosa for accepting their invitation.
"We're very honored to represent the SAF and PNP Police and we're so honored to have sir Bato here with us, that he allowed us to do this film. I hope he enjoys it," said Guidicelli.
In "Across the Crescent Moon," Guidicelli plays SAF officer Abbas Misani, a Muslim man who is married to a Christian woman named Emma. He earlier revealed that the crew worked with real-life SAF officers for the film. It will have a public release on January 25, the second anniversary of the Mamasapano clash.