This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Tolentino said on Wednesday, March 29, that he has agreed to be the legal counsel of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa in the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) probe into the bloody drug war of the Duterte administration.
“I accept the letter of proposal of Senator Dela Rosa to lawyer for him. I am now speaking as the counsel for Senator Bato dela Rosa,” Tolentino told reporters in a press briefing.
As the Duterte administration’s first police chief, Dela Rosa is regarded as the architect of then-president Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war that took thousands of lives. From July 2016 to October 2018 – a period that mostly covered Dela Rosa’s stint as PNP chief – the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said at least 4,999 were killed in police anti-drug operations.
Before he led the PNP, Dela Rosa served as Davao City police chief when Duterte was mayor. 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, according to former member Arturo Lascañas. The whistleblower had implicated Dela Rosa as among the alleged “enablers” of Duterte.
Asked if he would also represent Duterte, Tolentino said that he had yet to speak with the former president but he would, if requested.
“Hindi pa kami naguusap ni president pero kung gusto niya, pinapaayos ko ang mga papers ko ngayon for my proper accreditation if it will come to that point,” Tolentino said.
(The president and I haven’t talked yet but if he wants to, I’m fixing my papers for proper accreditation if it will come to that point.)
Based on ICC guidelines, “experienced lawyers who wish to represent defendants or victims as counsel before the Court must be admitted to the List of Counsel.”
Tolentino is not yet on the list as of December 20, 2022. Harry Roque is the only Filipino lawyer on the list so far. In the list of assistants to counsels, the only Filipino is human rights lawyer Kristina Conti of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.
In a decision dated Monday, March 27, the ICC rejected the appeal of the Philippine government to suspend an ongoing investigation into Duterte’s violent war on drugs while appeal proceedings were being held.
Asked whether he could represent a colleague before the ICC, Tolentino said that he would seek clearance from Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.
“I can get an exemption from the Senate President…. I would seek clearance to represent Senator Dela Rosa,” he said.