Dela Rosa questions ICC's insistence to probe Philippine drug war

By JOVILAND RITA,GMA Integrated News

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Friday questioned the motive of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in pushing through with its investigation into the Philippines' anti-drug war.

Interviewed on GMA News’ Unang Balita, Dela Rosa, the national police chief during the height of the drug war under the Duterte administration, said there seems to be an "agenda" behind the continuous push for the investigation.

"May motive behind ito. May ibang agenda kung bakit insisting. Merong nagtutulak sa kanila na mag-imbestiga. Baka gustong ibalik ang problema ng droga sa bansa," he said.

(There is a motive behind this. They have a different agenda behind their insistence. Someone is pushing them to investigate. Probably they want the drug problem to be back in the country.)

In a Zoom interview, Dela Rosa said the ICC is insistent because there is a “third force” that is urging them to conduct an investigation to “get revenge” against Duterte and his administration.

“Galit sila dahil tinamaan sila ng husto ng Duterte administration, ‘yung kaliwa, ‘yung mga basta lahat ng anti-Duterte forces, ‘yung kaliwa, ‘yung mga... basta lahat, lahat ng anti-Duterte forces, gustong gusto talaga nila na ma-prosecute,” he said.

(They are mad because they were hit by the Duterte administration, the right, and all the anti-Duterte forces, the left… all of them, all the anti-Duterte forces, they really want to prosecute us.)

Asked if he was referring to former senator Antonio Trillanes IV when he talked about the “third force,” Dela Rosa answered, “ay sino pa (who else)?”

“Sino ba, sino ba ang nag-initiate ng probe na ito? Paano pumasok ang ICC? Tanungin kita, sino ang nagbigay ng report sa kanila, sino ang nag-insisting doon? Tanungin kita. Alangan naman si Duterte ang gusto magpa-imbestiga sarili niya,” he said.

(Who initiated this probe? How did the ICC enter, who gave them the report, who insisted there? I will ask you. It can’t be Duterte who wants himself investigated.)

“For all you know hindi ito ‘yung mga victim. These are political personalities na anti-Duterte,” he added.

(For all you know, these are not the victims. These are political personalities who are anti-Duterte.)

Dela Rosa said he was already sick and tired of the investigation as he once again pointed out that the government has already barred the investigators from entering the country.

"Hindi nga sila pinapapasok dito para mag-conduct ng imbestigasyon. Go ahead kung anong gusto nilang gawin. Nakakasawa na,” he said.

(The government did not even allow them to enter the country to conduct an investigation. Go ahead with what they want to do. I am already sick and tired of it.)

Asked if the ICC cannot expect any cooperation from him, Dela Rosa insisted that an ICC investigation is not needed because the criminal justice system in the country is working "perfectly fine."

“Kapag pinasok mo 'yan dito parang pinagsasampal mo sa mukha yung ating mga piskal at judges na parang wala sila ginagawa sa ating sitwasyon. Perfectly fine naman ang performance ng ating judicial system. Wala namang problema,” he said.

(If we allow them to come here, it would be a slap to the face of our prosecutors and judges because it would seem like they are not doing anything. Our judicial system is perfectly fine. There is no problem.)

However, Dela Rosa said he will cooperate with the ICC should the government decide to cooperate with the investigation.

“Well, if the Philippine government allow them, then we— I have to cooperate. it is the government that is cooperating, so I am a part of the government, so why not?” he said.


Dela Rosa said President Rodrigo Duterte is confident that nothing will come out of the ICC probe.

He said he has yet to talk to the president.

“Basta, basta confident siya na— wala siyang sinabi sa willingess niya or what. Confident siya na walang mangyayari diyan. Walang mangyayari diyan sa kanila,” he said when asked about what the former president last said.

On Thursday, the ICC authorized the reopening of an inquiry into the brutal anti-drugs campaign under the administration of Duterte.

The ICC said its pre-trial chamber "is not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the court's investigations."

"The various domestic initiatives and proceedings, assessed collectively, do not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps," it said.

Duterte pulled the Philippines out of the Hague-based tribunal in 2019 after it began a preliminary probe into the drug war, followed by the launch of a formal inquiry later that year.

But the probe was suspended in November 2019 after Manila said it was re-examining several hundred cases of drug operations that led to deaths at the hands of police, hitmen and vigilantes.

Throwing support behind the ICC, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the international probe is the only credible platform to look into the drug war killings in the Philippines and give justice to the families of the victims.

“The ICC investigation in the Philippines is the only credible avenue for justice for the victims and their families of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous ‘war on drugs’,” HRW said in a statement.

“As the court’s judges agreed, Philippine authorities are not 'undertaking relevant investigations' into these crimes or “making a real or genuine effort” to carry these investigations out. The ICC offers a path forward to fill the accountability vacuum.”

For his part, Senate Minority Leader Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III urged the government to cooperate with the probe.

"Let us cooperate as we are a responsible member of the world community of nations," Pimentel said, but added that it is still "premature" to talk about arrest warrants.

"Talking about arrest warrants is too far into the future and assumes a lot of things," he said.

Officially, 6,181 people were killed in Duterte's "war on drugs" but rights group say that up to 30,000 may have been killed, some innocent victims, and that corruption was rife among security forces that acted with impunity.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros welcomed the ICC’s decision to resume its probe “with renewed hope.”

“The government itself cannot credibly investigate murders allegedly committed by government agents as part of government policy,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

She said justice requires that an impartial body investigate killings connected to the so-called war on drugs. She added justice is not fully served when only the foot soldiers are behind bars.

Further, Hontiveros said the active engagement of the Marcos administration with the international community makes it appropriate for the government to rejoin the Rome Statute.—KBK/AOL, GMA Integrated News