HRW: Indonesia's award for Dela Rosa 'an insult' to PH drug war victims

FOR THE DRUG WAR. Indonesian police honors PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa. Sourced photo from PNP official

FOR THE DRUG WAR. Indonesian police honors PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

Sourced photo from PNP official

MANILA, Philippines – Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the conferment of an award to Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa as an insult to the victims of the Philippine war on drugs.

“That’s a perverse assessment of a Philippine government official implicated in possible crimes against humanity for inciting and instigating killings linked to the war on drugs,” HRW’s deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said on Thursday, February 15. 

The Indonesia National Police (INP) on Wednesday, February 14, awarded Dela Rosa the "Bintang Bhayangkara Utama," its Medal of Honor equivalent for his leadership in the drug war. 

The PNP Chief added that INP chief Muhammad Tito Karnavian vouched for him for his "rockstar-like inspiration" to Indonesian cops and for showing "how to fight the war on drugs.”

Latest government data shows that 4,021 suspected drug personalities have been killed in police operations from July 1, 2016 to February 8, 2018. The number of killed in vigilante-style killings are highly contested but human rights organizations estimate it to be at least 12,000. 

Dela Rosa’s award is the latest move of Indonesia that has consistently praised the anti-drug operations of the Philippines. In September 2016, the country’s National Narcotics Agency head Budi Waseco called on Indonesian cops to adopt Duterte’s style.

Karnavian, meanwhile, told drug suspects that “sending them to God” should be preferred over arrest and prosecution, according to HRW. 

Despite Indonesia’s “sinister slide” into a Philippine-like style, Kine insists that the government should rally against the gruesome killings under the Duterte administration.

“Indonesian President Joko Widodo should join calls for a United Nations-led international investigation into the Philippine “drug war” rather than honoring one of its chief architects,” Kine said. –

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.