ADVOCACY group Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday called for a winning senatorial candidate to be held accountable for his leading role in President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s drug war.
“Newly elected senator Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa was Duterte’s police chief when the ‘drug war’ began after Duterte took office in June 2016.” HRW said in a statement credited to researcher Carlos H. Conde of the group’s Asia division.
“Dela Rosa presided over a Philippine National Police that routinely shot and killed drug suspects, claiming without proof they resisted arrest. Investigations by rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, and the media found numerous instances in which the police planted weapons and drugs on victims to cover-up the killings.”
“Dela Rosa was as vociferous in carrying out and defending the ‘drug war’ brutality as Duterte was in justifying it,” HRW also said. “‘If many believe that the number of drug addicts has gone down,’ he told reporters during his Senate campaign, ‘then somehow we are successful.’”
“However one views the election results, it won’t change the fact that victorious candidates implicated in “drug war” crimes shouldn’t receive a get-out-of-jail-free card.”
“Dela Rosa may still have a date with justice. The Duterte government has shown it won’t carry out necessary investigations, but the International Criminal Court (ICC) could. Although the Philippines has officially withdrawn from the ICC, the court, which is conducting a preliminary examination into killings during the anti-drug campaign, can still investigate alleged crimes against humanity that occurred while Dela Rosa was police chief, and any other crimes “occurring in the future in the context of the same situation.”
Mr. dela Rosa was sought for comment. He is currently in fifth place in the ongoing election count, with more than 18 million votes, and was reported by election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting as the top choice in the overseas vote.