Dela Rosa lashes out: Dissolve gov't if you don't trust them, let rights groups run country

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Dela Rosa lashes out: Dissolve gov't if you don't trust them, let rights groups run country
Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa during the Kapihan sa Senado forum, July 4, 2019.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — In a brazen and extemporaneous tirade Wednesday, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa lashed out at critics of the administration's flagship "war on drugs"—of which he served as chief architect—calling the recent United Nations report "ridiculous" and "preposterous", and saying that rights groups should just take over the government instead if they did not trust it. 

The United Nations report in question posited anew that the so-called drug war resulted in serious human rights violations, including “widespread and systematic” extrajudicial killings that numbered in the ten thousands, according to UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet.

A clearly upset Dela Rosa said it was only "just 5,000 plus" dead bodies. 

Asked in an interview with ANC's Headstart why the public should trust the national police's official numbers instead, the neophyte senator responded: "If you do not trust the PNP numbers, we dissolve the PNP, if you don’t trust the government, let’s remove the government. Fine, let’s dissolve it all, even the government if we don’t trust them. Let the human rights groups rule the country if that's the way they want it, if we don’t trust government instrumentalities."

READ: 'Grave violations': Bachelet presents report on Philippines to UN rights council

"Who is she to say that about us? They said 27,000 were killed in the drug war when the official record of the PNP is only at more than 5,000...I welcome that move if they will go here so that they will see for themselves the truth. But it’s not for me to decide, that’s an executive decision to allow them to enter the country," he added in a mix of Filipino and English. 

Before his stint in the Philippine Senate, Dela Rosa initially led the president's bloody campaign against illegal drugs and was director-general of the national police when 17-year-old Kian delos Santos was murdered by Caloocan City cops who claimed he was a drug runner in 2017.

Today, he sits as chair of the Senate committee on public order and illegal drugs, which has jurisdiction over matters related to law enforcement and the Philippine National Police.

Are the numbers credible?

After a child was killed in a similar drug bust operation, the neophyte senator was quoted as saying at the time: "Shit happens."

At the start of 2019, the chief executive claimed there were as many as eight million drug users in the country, a figure backed by agencies involved in the so-called war on drugs. 

According to Vice President Leni Robredo, though, the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs estimates that the number of drug users in the country stands at four million, which is an extrapolation of those who were arrested and those who surrendered.

READ: Robredo points out 'inconsistent' government data on 'drug war' | Despite police claims, drug war killings continue amid COVID-19 lockdown — int'l rights monitor

She also found that only 1% of the shabu supply in the country had been recovered between 2017 and 2018.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has said that despite the coronavirus pandemic, the vigilante-style summary executions linked to the government's campaign against illegal narcotics continued, despite police claims that Oplan Tokhang would be suspended amid the quarantine. 

Heading into the fourth week of Metro Manila's general community quarantine, strengthening operations against illegal drugs headlined a list of the national police leadership's command guidelines for the agency moving forward. 

VERA Files in a report dated May 24 and carried by Philstar.com logged 53 drug-related killings since the announcement of enhanced community quarantine on March 15, though they were careful to note that not all of the killings were linked to police operations.

'Fake news'

Dela Rosa said he welcomed a probe by the international body, though the Office of the President has promised that it would bar any attempt at doing so. 

"If she comes here, she will find out that there's a bigger chance that [Bachelet] would get held up there in New York than here in Makati City or in Quezon City...if she has a business in Los Angeles, there's a bigger chance she'd get looted or ransacked there than in Makati City and Quezon City," the senator said. 

Echoing popular sentiment among government officials, Dela Rosa even went so far as to say that reports by local human rights groups were doctored to make the government look bad on the international stage, though he failed to present a cogent argument as to why administration numbers should be more reliable.

READ: Panelo on US senators: Parang 'di sila nag-aaral

"Nothing's going to happen to make our lives better here. We never trust [the government]," Dela Rosa said. 

"Our countrymen are making false reports to ruin the government," he added. 






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