‘Bato’ may face bigger woes than U.S. visa cancellation for role in drug war – HRW
MANILA, Philippines — Former national police chief and now Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa “may soon enough face far bigger problems than trouble with his visa to the United States” for his role in the administration’s drug war, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
“In revoking Senator Ronald dela Rosa’s visa, the US State Department has exercised its authority to deny visas to persons implicated in gross human rights abuses,” the HRW said in a statement on Thursday.
“Their action represents a shift in US policy towards the Philippines government and its war on drugs, and sends the message that the US won’t do business with government officials implicated in atrocities,” the group said.
The HRW issued this statement after Dela Rosa disclosed Wednesday that his U.S. has been canceled.
Dela Rosa said he sent a letter to the U.S. Embassy in Manila to ask about his visa’s status after hearing “rumors” that it has been canceled.
While there was no reason given by the embassy on the cancelation of his visa, Dela Rosa thinks it might have been because of his role in the Duterte administration’s drug during his stint as Philippine National Police chief.
“The next step is for the US government to make clear that this policy extends to all members of the government who are implicated in mass killings associated with the ‘drug war’,” the HRW pointed out.
“Dela Rosa presided over a Philippine National Police that routinely shot and killed drug suspects, claiming without proof they resisted arrest,” it added.
Over 5,500 individuals have been killed in the drug war, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, but human rights groups asserted that the death toll has already reached 27,000.
“Investigations by human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, and by the media, have found numerous instances in which the police planted weapons and drugs on victims to cover-up the killings. Dela Rosa has been as vociferous in carrying out and defending the drug war’s brutality as President Duterte has been in justifying it,” the HRW said.
“Dela Rosa may still have a date with justice. The Duterte government has shown it is incapable of carrying out appropriate investigations into killings, but the International Criminal Court (ICC) still can,” the group added.
The ICC earlier said the completion of the preliminary examination of the crimes against humanity against the President may be completed in 2020 as it continues to assess the communication from drug war victims.
The ICC launched the preliminary examination in February 2018 on the accusation Duterte had committed crimes against humanity, following a review of communications and reports documenting the alleged crimes linked to his brutal crackdown on illegal drugs.
A month later, the President declared the country’s withdrawal from the ICC.
The Philippines’ pull-out from the ICC took effect in March last year.
But the HRW pointed out that “although the Philippines has officially withdrawn from the ICC, the court…retains the power to 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’.”
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