Bato dela Rosa

Dela Rosa says he’s ‘ready’ to face ICC ‘any time’

Bea Cupin

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PNP CHIEF TO SENATOR. Ronald dela Rosa led the PNP when it first launched the bloody 'war on drugs.'

Rappler file

'Ang aking paghahanda lang ay sinusugarado ko na ang aking puso ay malinis, at ang akin konsensya ay malinis,' says the former police chief

Senator Ronald dela Rosa on Wednesday, November 3, said he was “ready” to face an International Criminal Court (ICC) probe into President Rodrigo Duterte’s “drug war,” which the former police chief led from 2016 until his retirement in 2018.  

Ready ako any time na humarap sa kanila (I’m ready to face them any time),” said Dela Rosa, who is running for president under the Cusi wing of the ruling PDP-Laban.

Dela Rosa, a retired police general, is among Duterte’s longest and most loyal allies. He was Davao City police chief when Duterte was city mayor and was the latter’s first choice to head the Philippine National Police (PNP) when he ascended to the presidency in 2016. 

“Oplan Tokhang,” a literal door-knocking program against suspected drug users and pushers under Duterte’s bloody “drug war,” is the brainchild of Dela Rosa from his Davao city police chief days. 

Pressed on how he’s preparing for the ICC investigation, Dela Rosa said: “Ang aking paghahanda lang ay sinusugarado ko na ang aking puso ay malinis, at ang akin konsensiya ay malinis.” (I’m preparing by making sure my heart is pure and my conscience is clean.)

The senator also said he was not in contact with legal representation – either here or abroad – ahead of the ICC probe. 

Official government estimates place the number of those killed in the law enforcement operations at around 8,000. But human rights groups and observers have estimated up to 30,000 people have died in both operations by state forces and killings by supposed vigilantes.

Dela Rosa is named in the ICC report alongside other key officials from the administration.

Speaking to media on November 3, Dela Rosa reiterated earlier points – that an ICC investigation is an “insult” to the Philippine judicial system and that ICC investigators are “foreigners who [don’t] know anything about the real score about the war on drugs and they are being fed with lies.”

He has said he’d rather face local courts instead of the the ICC. 

As chief of the PNP, Dela Rosa signed and issued a circular that used the word “neutralization” to refer to targets of the drug war. His statements “declaring that killing those involved in drugs was the intention” in the anti-drug campaign were also the basis of his inclusion in the ICC pre-trial chamber’s decision. 

Dela Rosa has also said that if he’s elected president, he would allow the ICC to enter the country but only as observers. An official ICC investigation, however, is a no-go for the Duterte ally.   

Dela Rosa has three more years left in his first Senate term.  –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.