Dela Rosa avoiding travel to ICC-member countries in case of arrest
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, the first Philippine National Police (PNP) chief of former President Rodrigro Duterte, on Thursday said he is holding back from traveling to member countries of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in case he gets arrested.
Dela Rosa, the chief enforcer of Duterte’s drug war when he sat at the helm of the PNP, said he remains unfazed by the recent developments in the ICC probe into the violent drug war of the former administration. But he’s already preparing for possible arrest.
“Hindi ako takot. Alam ko naman na walang mangyayari diyan kung hindi lang ako lalabas sa ating bansa. Kung maglabas sila ng warrant of arrest, hindi naman nila ako pwedeng arestuhin. Iyon lang, just in case pupunta ako sa ibang bansa at huhulihin ako doon, nandiyan na si Sen. [Francis] Tolentino to the rescue para mag-represent sa akin sa kahaharapin ko,” dela Rosa said in an online media interview.
(I’m not scared. I know nothing will happen if I don’t leave the country. If they issue a warrant of arrest, they can’t arrest me. But just in case I fly to another country, and they arrest me there, Sen. Tolentino will come to the rescue to represent me before any proceeding.)
While the senator is already on his toes, the ICC has so far not issued an arrest order on any individual in relation to its ongoing investigation into the violent war on drugs.
Tolentino, a known Duterte ally, earlier announced that he would stand as legal counsel of dela Rosa before the ICC and even in local courts.
This, even as the 1987 Constitution states that “no senator or member of the House of Representatives may personally appear as counsel before any court of justice or before the Electoral Tribunals, or quasi-judicial and other administrative bodies.”
READ: Tolentino to stand as Dela Rosa’s legal counsel in ICC probe
Dela Rosa said he will leave the legal technicalities to Tolentino but he was all praise for his fellow senator, partymate and “personal friend.”
“Alam kong matalino iyan. Magaling iyan na abogado. Nakita ko talaga na mahusay siya na international lawyer. I’m very comfortable with him. Kilala ko siya from head to foot. Alam kong hindi niya ako pababayaan. He will fight with all his might to defend me,” he added.
(I know he’s smart. He’s a good lawyer. I believe he’s a good international lawyer. I’m very comfortable with him. I know him from head to foot. He won’t abandon me. He will fight with all his might to defend me.)
The legislator reiterated the government’s stance that the international tribunal has no jurisdiction over the country, but when asked if the ongoing probe was keeping him from traveling to other countries who are members of the ICC in case of arrest, dela Rosa said: “Yes. Baka biglang maglabas ng warrant nga habang nandoon ka doon sa bansang iyon, mahirap na (It’d be difficult if they just release the warrant there while I’m in another country).”
Dela Rosa also said he would recommend Tolentino to likewise serve as the legal counsel of Duterte before the ICC.
“We’re on the same boat ng Presidente, so mas maganda na si [Tolentino] na rin mag-represent (We’re on the same boat as the President, so it would be better if [Tolentino] could represent him too,” he said.
If not, dela Rosa broached the idea of having Tolentino work with former presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who is the only lawyer in the ICC’s list of counsel.
The ICC Appeals Chamber has junked the Philippine’s government bid to suspend the drug war probe while it is also appealing to reverse the ruling that authorizes the resumption of the investigation.
Duterte and dela Rosa are among those accused of crimes against humanity for alleged extrajudicial killings related to the war on drugs.
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