MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa confirmed on Wednesday, January 22, that his US visa has been canceled.
In December, Politiko reported that Washington revoked Dela Rosa's US visa as it strengthened its crackdown on human rights violators. The senator was the architect of the Duterte administration's bloody campaign against illegal drugs when he was Philippine National Police chief.
Dela Rosa confirmed the cancellation of his US visa in a text message: "Yes. They officially answered my official query."
The top-cop-turned-senator said he did not know the specific date when his visa was canceled. It was supposed to expire in 2022.
"Basta mag-apply lang daw ako uli kung gusto ko, kasi the present visa was canceled (I was told to just apply again if I want, because the present visa was cancelled)," Dela Rosa said.
Dela Rosa led President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs when he was PNP chief from July 2016 to April 2018. (READ: Duterte says his only 'sin' is extrajudicial killings)
According to the Philippine government tally, cops had killed at least 5,500 suspects after allegedly "fighting back" during anti-drug operations.
Human rights groups, however, estimate the kill tally to be over 30,000, including killings inspired by Duterte’s war on drugs.
In an interview with reporters, Dela Rosa on Wednesday said that he had inquired about the status of his visa in December, and received a reply on January 20.
“I received their official answer the day before my birthday, January 20. What a good birthday gift,” Dela Rosa said.
“[The letter was] informing me that my visa is no longer valid for travel to the United States. Should I want to apply for another visa, I reapply subject to rules and regulations,” he added.
Dela Rosa said that the reason for the revocation of his visa was not stated in the letter.
Reapply for a US visa?
Dela Rosa said that he would apply for a US visa if President Rodrigo Duterte accepts the invitation of US President Donald Trump to attend the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Las Vegas in March, and if Duterte asks him to join that trip.
“Titingnan ko kung pupunta si Presidente Duterte sa kanyang invitation ni Trump, just in case pupunta siya at pasasamahin niya ako do’n, then I will apply (I will see if President Duterte will accept Trump’s invitation, just in case he will go and ask me to come with him, then I will apply)," Dela Rosa said.
Should he reapply, there are two US laws that sanction travel bans against human rights violators.
The Asia Reassurance Initiative is a US law aimed at developing a “long-term strategic vision and a comprehensive, multifaceted, and principled United States policy for the Indo-Pacific region.” It gives power to the US president to “impose targeted financial penalties and visa ban sanctions” to any individual or entity that violates human rights or religious freedoms, or engages in censorship activities.
Then there’s the Global Magnitsky Act that imposes the same sanctions specifically on human rights violators anywhere in the world.
The US Senate recently approved a resolution that invoked the Global Magnitsky Act on those involved in the "wrongful" detention of Senator Leila de Lima and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. – Rappler.com