‘Tokhang’ enforcer sure investigation ‘won’t prosper’ | Inquirer News
Dela Rosa blames Trillanes

‘Tokhang’ enforcer sure investigation ‘won’t prosper’

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:40 AM January 28, 2023
Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa icc drug war

Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa —Senate PRIB

The chief implementer of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs on Friday belittled the decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to authorize the resumption of the investigation of the killings of thousands of mostly poor drug suspects by its prosecutor.

“I’m sure this will not prosper. I’m not bothered,” Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa told reporters in a Zoom interview.

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“I was a little bothered before. But now, it doesn’t affect me anymore,” he continued. “Let them be. Go ahead. Do what you want. I’m getting used to it.”

Known as one of Duterte’s closest security aides and personal friends, Dela Rosa was tapped to head the Philippine National Police when the former mayor of Davao City won the presidency in 2016.

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As PNP chief for almost two years, he oversaw the implementation of “Oplan Tokhang,” Duterte’s brutal antinarcotics crackdown that resulted in the deaths of thousands of suspected drug offenders, majority of them street-level pushers and ordinary drug users.

His key participation in the drug war landed Dela Rosa, who was elected as senator in 2019, in the complaint that the families of the slain drug war victims had filed in the ICC.

As he had previously insisted, the PNP general-turned-lawmaker claimed Duterte did not order the killings despite the fact that the former leader had publicly said that drug suspects were better off dead.

Dela Rosa stressed that the ICC investigation would not be credible without visiting the Philippines but at the same time he also said its investigators should not be allowed into the country.

Asked if he would cooperate with the ICC investigators, the senator said: “If the Philippine government will allow them, I have to cooperate.”

“If the government is cooperating (with them), then I am part of the government, so why not,” he said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros urged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to cooperate with the ICC probe and for the the Philippines rejoin the Rome Statute, which created the international tribunal.

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She said that the President’s decision to participate in the international community made it “necessary” for his administration to cooperate with the international tribunal.

“I hope the President adheres to international law and the Rome Statute as part of our commitment to the community of nations against state sponsored impunity … Let justice be done,” she said.

‘Third force’

Dela Rosa reiterated that the bloodbath attributed to Duterte’s anticriminality strategy was “not state-sponsored” and that the PNP personnel who killed innocent victims had been indicted and discharged from the service.

The senator said a “third force” composed of leftist and other “anti-Duterte” personalities could be behind the ICC’s decision to resume its investigation.

“You know them,” he said.

Asked if he was referring to former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Dela Rosa said: “Who else?”

Trillanes, one of Duterte’s fiercest critics, declined to comment on Dela Rosa’s allegation.

“There are some forces pushing (the ICC) to continue its investigation even if there’s no effort from the Filipino people,” Dela Rosa said. “In fact, the Filipino people don’t want them here.”

These forces, he added, only wanted to get back at Duterte and his officials as they were supposedly “hit hard” by the former administration.

“Maybe they want the drug business to return and flourish again. Our drug war will just be wasted and the drug syndicates will be emboldened,” he added.

Duterte himself admitted before he stepped down that his antidrug campaign had failed

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, who has supervision over the PNP, did not immediately respond to the Inquirer’s request for comment.

Early on, he said the Marcos administration’s approach to the drug problem would be different and that it would work “within the framework of the law and with respect for human rights and with focus on rehabilitation and socio-economic development.”

He had declined to categorically say whether the PNP would cooperate with the ICC investigation. He said it would depend on the President’s decisionIn July last year, he assured police officers that he would protect them from all their “detractors” as long as what they were doing was legal.

—WITH A REPORT FROM DEXTER CABALZ

RELATED STORIES:

ICC resumes probe on PH’s drug war

Marcos told: Comply with ICC probe to give justice to victims of Duterte’s drug war

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