Human Rights Watch said many have interpreted the recently concluded midterm elections in the country as an endorsement of President Duterte’s war on drugs after the administration’s candidates dominated the Senate, House and local elections.
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Bato dared: Bring drug war rights violators to justice
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - May 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Human rights advocates yesterday said now that former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa is a policymaker, there is renewed urgency to hold all those responsible for the bloody war against illegal drugs liable and bring them to justice.

Human Rights Watch said many have interpreted the recently concluded midterm elections in the country as an endorsement of President Duterte’s war on drugs after the administration’s candidates dominated the Senate, House and local elections.

“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. Newly elected senator dela Rosa was Duterte’s police chief when the drug war started in 2016,” said Carlos Conde, Human Rights Watch researcher, Asia Division.

Dela Rosa was PNP chief when the killings of suspected drugs pushers and users that allegedly resisted arrest became rampant.

Investigations conducted by rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, and the media found numerous instances wherein the police planted weapons and drugs on victims to cover-up the killings.

The group noted that according to the police, in more than three years, they killed about 5,300 drug suspects who fought back, an unverified claim that also ignores the role of police-backed vigilantes responsible for many more drug war killings. 

The Commission on Human Rights estimated that more than 27,000 have died in the “drug war” – a number that grows daily as killings extend from Metro Manila to other urban areas.

The group said that Dela Rosa may still have a date with justice. 

Overseas votes

Sen. Cynthia Villar might be leading in the overall tally for winning senatorial bets, but Dela Rosa is leading in the overseas absentee voting (OAV), according to the partial and unofficial data coming from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV). 

It was also noticeable in PPCRV’s data that so far none of the eight senatorial bets of the opposition’s Otso Diretso made it to the top 12. 

Data culled from the PPCRV showed that the 57-year-old Dela Rosa has 124,361 votes from Filipinos based abroad. Around 51 percent of his votes came from the Middle East, while 42 percent came from Filipinos based in Asia Pacific, six percent from Europe and a smaller percentage from the Americas. 

The STAR columnist Dr. Willie Ong, who has not made it to the Magic 12 in the overall tally, is in second spot in the OAV with 120,600 votes; in third spot is former special assistant to the president Christopher Go who got 119,990 votes, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos in fourth with 118,100 and fifth spot went to Taguig City Rep. Pia Cayeteano with 106,567 votes.

Villar, who has been leading in the senatorial race since the first day of the counting, landed in sixth slot in the OAV with 97,034 voters. In seventh place is former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Francis Tolentino with 84,927 votes.  –  With Evelyn Macairan

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH RONALD “BATO” DELA ROSA
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