MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief of Rodrigo Duterte, said he is ready for the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) probe into alleged killings under Duterte.
“‘Yong sabi ko nga, fear of the unknown dahil ibang animal itong [ICC] sila, ibang entity. Hindi natin alam kung ano sila and ano ‘yong motive behind nila, bakit sila insisting. ‘Yan ‘yong sabi ko noon, na medyo may fear of the unknown ako,” the senator told Karen Davila in an ANC interview on Friday, January 27.
(What I said was, fear of the unknown because the ICC is a different animal, different entity. We do not know who they are and what their motives are, why they are insisting. That’s what I’ve said before, that I have fear of the unknown.)
“But now, I have no more fears. You can go ahead whatever you want, I’m ready. Whatever happens, my life, my future is dependent on the decision of this government,” the police-chief-turned-lawmaker added.
Dela Rosa responded to the question of whether he still has fears about the probe. The senator’s remarks also came shortly after the ICC moved its investigation to the warrants stage.
This means the ICC’s pre-trial chamber authorized the resumption of the probe because it was not satisfied with the Philippine government’s intervention in the alleged killings. Although the ICC did not cite particular officials in its latest information, Dela Rosa was earlier named in a report by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in 2021.
The senator played a big role in the drug war that took the lives of thousands of people because he was the Duterte administration’s first PNP chief – Dela Rosa was the first one to implement the bloody war. From July 2016 to October 2018, which mostly covered Dela Rosa’s time as PNP chief, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said at least 4,999 have died.
Before he became the PNP chief, Dela Rosa also served as Davao City police chief when Duterte was still the mayor of Davao. The Davao Death Squad (DDS) flourished under Duterte and was known to carry out kill orders from higher-ups that allegedly included the former Davao City mayor.
In his affidavit submitted to the ICC, former cop, DDS member and whistleblower Arturo Lascañas also implicated Dela Rosa and named his as among public officials who were “enablers” of Duterte.
Edgar Matobato, a former DDS member, likewise implicated Dela Rosa and said the former Davao City police chief was aware of the DDS’ activities.
Will Dela Rosa cooperate?
Dela Rosa said he will cooperate in the ICC probe as long as the government, currently headed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., will cooperate. Marcos is a staunch ally of Duterte and he earlier said that under his administration, the country has no plans of rejoining the ICC.
“As I have said, if the Philippine government would cooperate, then I am a part of the Philippine government so I will cooperate. No problem with me, if the Philippine government cooperates,” Dela Rosa said.
When asked by Rappler if he had already spoken to Duterte following the most recent ICC developments, the senator reiterated that his actions will be based on the Marcos administration’s decisions.
“Not yet. My future actions are dependent on the actions of this government since it is very consistent on its denial from ICC to proceed with their investigation in our jurisdiction,” Dela Rosa told Rappler.
The senator said he has no reaction to the ICC’s latest move, but added it is now up to the Marcos administration if the ICC will be allowed entry to the country. Allowing entry and providing evidence to the ICC will depend on the Philippine government’s decision, he added.
Dela Rosa did not directly answer the question about what he will do, if in a hypothetical situation, the ICC issued a warrant against him. When asked if he would still be comfortable about traveling overseas, he replied:
“Ngayon nga hindi na ‘ko nagta-travel abroad. Eh ‘yan pa, kung may warrant ako. Eh siguro ano, huhulihin nila ‘ko do’n pagdating sa airport outside ng Philippine jurisdiction (As early as now, I have not been traveling abroad. What more now if I have a warrant. Probably, they might arrest me once I arrive in an airport outside of the Philippine jurisdiction).” – with reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com
Of course, Sen. Bato has “no more fears” as long as the Marcos Jr. administration will not give in to the ICC. And even if the latter will do, his Plan B will be not to cooperate with the ICC or Plan C, he will cooperate in the “Pakitang Tao” manner and will use everything within his power and that of the Former President Duterte including that of VP Sara Duterte to sabotage the ICC process.