‘I’d rather be tried, hanged’ in PH, Dela Rosa says on ICC drug war probe
MANILA, Philippines — “I [would] rather be tried, convicted and even hanged before a Filipino court.”
Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said this Monday after a pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has authorized the start of the probe into the crimes against humanity cases filed against President Rodrigo Duterte in connection with the drug war killings.
Dela Rosa, Duterte’s first Philippine National Police chief, was known for spearheading the administration’s war on drugs.
“I am one of the co-accused together with the President. Being a Filipino…I rather be tried, convicted and even hanged before a Filipino court rather than [be] tried, convicted, and hanged before a foreign court,” the senator said during the budget hearing of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the Senate.
“I would rather have a justice criminal system run like hell by Filipino judges rather than a criminal justice [system] run like heaven by foreign judges,” he added.
While the ICC has yet to name any suspects, the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber 1 cited Duterte and Dela Rosa for their public statements that supposedly incited or encouraged the killing of drug suspects.
“Because being a Filipino, siguro naman [I think] it’s also my right, my human right to be tried before a Filipino court,” Dela Rosa went on.
In response, CHR Chairperson Jose Luis Gascon reassured Dela Rosa that neither the Philippines nor the ICC imposes the death penalty.
“So yung last part po ninyo na [The last part of what you said] ‘hanged’ should not be a matter [of] concern…,” Gascon said.
“Wag na natin yung [Alright, let’s not use] ‘hang.’ Incarcerated forever, yun na lang [let’s use that], for being convicted of any crimes being contemplated by the ICC,” Dela Rosa remarked.
Gascon then stressed the importance of cooperation on the part of the Philippine government.
He said that if the ICC sees that the country being investigated is “able and willing to investigate and hold accountable perpetrators of the most serious crimes,” then it will no longer proceed with the probe.
“So what is critical is that we show to the entire world that the Philippine government is serious about addressing those issues that were brought to the attention of the ICC,” Gascon said.
But Dela Rosa raised concern over the fairness of the ICC investigation, claiming the court only receives reports from those with political motives.
He also insisted that the criminal justice system in the country is “working.”
“I don’t think so na we still have to prove to the whole world that our criminal justice is working,” the former PNP chief said.
“I am confident naman na itong gagawin na imbestigasyon, kung magiging patas lang sila, they will see as clear as day kung ano talaga ang nangyayari dito sa Pilipinas,” he added.
(I am confident that with the investigation, if they will be fair, they will see as clear as day what is really happening in the Philippines.)
But Gascon pointed out that there have been no “significant” convictions in the Philippines in relation to the killing of drug suspects.
“Yes, investigations have been ongoing. Unfortunately these investigations in relation to the war on drugs here have not led to significant convictions,” he said.
Further, the CHR chief said the ICC observes certain standards in its investigation and will not rely on mere allegations.
“Let me assure you that the ICC has established standards for the protection of the rights of victims as well as for the protection of the rights of the accused,” Gascon told the senator.
“That is why it has taken so long…it will not rely on mere allegations or statements, it will conduct a thorough independent verifiable process of uncovering evidence and truth and only if it has sufficient evidence will it proceed to charges filed and trial,” he added.
Complaints against Duterte for his bloody drug war were filed by several rights groups and sectors critical of his anti-illegal drugs campaign like the Rise Up for Life and Rights, which is composed of drug war victims’ relatives and other rights advocates.
According to the group, Duterte has violated Article 7 of the Rome Statute for “widespread and systematic attacks in the form of murder of thousands of civilians.”
Malacañang, for its part, earlier said the ICC’s investigation on the Duterte administration’s war on drugs is unlikely to move forward as the Philippine government still won’t cooperate.