Declare Bato a nuisance candidate for running to protect himself, Duterte from ICC

Photo by Noel Celis/Getty Images

Photo by Noel Celis/Getty Images

Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa should be declared a nuisance candidate for running for president, human rights alliance Karapatan asserted, after the senator and former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief stated that, if he wins the presidency in the 2022 national elections, he will not allow any investigation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the crimes against humanity committed under President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs in order to protect both Duterte and himself from possible prosecution.

“Straight from the horse’s mouth, Bato’s objective for running for president is clear: to protect himself and President Duterte from the ICC’s investigation as he eyes to continue the same murderous policies such as the sham drug war and the brutal counterinsurgency campaigns. A candidate who is explicitly running for self-preservation — and not for the interest of the Filipino people — is nothing more than a shameless nuisance candidate who should be disqualified from the elections,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

In an interview yesterday, October 19, Dela Rosa averred that “hindi lang si President Duterte protektahan ko, pati sarili ko dahil dalawa kaming co-accused diyan sa kaso na ‘yan, ‘di ba? Protektahan ko lang sarili ko.” Dela Rosa has been the chief architect of the drug war as the former chief PNP chief from July 2016 to April 2018, as well as the chief of the Davao City police from 2012 to October 2013 during President Duterte’s term as vice mayor and then mayor of Davao City. The ICC is also set to investigate the drug war killings in Davao starting November 2011.

Dela Rosa further called the ICC investigation a slap on the face of the country’s supposedly functioning justice system. Palabay rebutted the senator’s claim: “Nothing could be further from the truth. The plodding grind of justice in our courts effectively renders our justice system and domestic mechanisms of accountability ineffective in rendering justice for the thousands of victims of the drug war and their families. They have already suffered enough from the deaths of their loved ones, and the glacial pace of justice exacerbates their pain, for justice delayed is already justice denied.”

The Karapatan official particularly cited the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) slow progress in its investigation of drug war killings. Today, the DOJ released its matrix of the 52 cases submitted by the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service regarding the deaths that occurred in the course of the drug war and that they have supposedly referred these cases to the National Bureau of Investigation to “undergo further investigation and case buildup for the possible filing of criminal charges against erring police officers.”

“The DOJ’s review should go beyond just mere filing of cases against some erring police personnel. The public, most especially the families of victims, deserve clear answers to these questions — what are the patterns in these killings? Who are the perpetrators and from what basis or orders have they conducted the said violations? What are the implications of the policies of the PNP as well as President Duterte’s pronouncements on such acts? Why are only .8% of the 6,191 reported deaths by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency being investigated and reviewed?” Palabay asked.

“These persistent and still-unanswered questions lead to a view that these efforts, aside from being too little and too late, can only be a mere window dressing by the current administration amidst the magnified scrutiny from the ICC and the United Nations Human Rights Council. If clear patterns of the killings, as well as the level of command responsibility and policy issues on these killings and rights violations remain unaddressed, piecemeal acts such as this review do little to render justice and to will and institute genuine policy change,” she continued.

“That one of the chief architects of this murderous campaign has the audacity to run for the highest position in the land — with the explicit goal, no less, of protecting himself and President Duterte from the ICC’s investigation — should spell out the clear urgency of an international, independent, and impartial investigation into the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines in order to hold accountable the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity and bring them to justice, and to ensure that they never hold any position in public office again,” Palabay ended.