File photo by Angie De Silva/Rappler
Senator Ronald dela Rosa, the "face" of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war, wants help from the Commission on Human Rights.
On Monday, September 9, the former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief sought the commission’s assistance to end the communist insurgency, urging the CHR to ask the New People’s Army (NPA) to “release” minors they allegedly recruited. (READ: 'Umuwi na kayo,' Bato dela Rosa tells minors who joined the Left)
“Tutal mas close naman kayo sa kanila,” he told the CHR during its budget deliberations. “Mas close talaga ang NPA sa inyo kaysa sa military.”
(Anyway you're closer to them. The NPA is really closer to you than with the military.)
Dela Rosa said that the CHR is offering "something new" to citizens by helping end the recruitment, alluding to the commission's persistent criticism of alleged human rights violations under President Rodrigo Duterte.
CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon, however, rebuked Dela Rosa and said that the commission has always been against violence and has pushed for children's rights, including the prohibition of using child soldiers.
"For the record, this is not something new," Gascon said. "We’ve always advocated for these rights and against violations."
He also noted that the NPA has denied recruiting minors.
Monday's encounter is reminiscent of the last time Gascon and Dela Rosa were in the Senate halls together. In 2017, the two testified before a Senate hearing that was looking into the death of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos.
The CHR has previously called out Dela Rosa's actions and statements, particularly the PNP's non-cooperation and release of case folders vital to investigations. (READ: 'Puro dribble': CHR hits PNP for not cooperating in drug war probes) – Rappler.com
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.