Duterte reassures 'nervous' Dela Rosa on ICC investigation

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Duterte reassures 'nervous' Dela Rosa on ICC investigation
President Rodrigo Duterte stands beside Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa during Dela Rosa's Assumption of Command Ceremony at the Camp Crame in Manila on July 1, 2016.
Noel Celis / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said his former police chief, Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, is feeling anxious over the International Criminal Court’s inquiry into the administration's bloody campaign against illegal drugs.

Dela Rosa is the administration's standard-bearer for 2022, though he has said he would be willing to back out to make way for Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

"Bato, he got nervous because was involved [and he oversaw Oplan] Tokhang," Duterte said in a speech delivered in Filipino before members of the government's anti-communist task force in Lucena City in Quezon. "I told him not to worry." 

"If there is any person who is going to prison, it would be me. But it should be a Filipino court, manned by a Filipino judge and me prosecuted by a Filipino prosecutor."

As Duterte's first and longest-serving national police chief, Dela Rosa was the architect of the administration's so-called war on drugs. He also served as Davao City's top cop from 2013 to 2016 under Duterte who was mayor at the time. 

The scope of the ICC investigation goes back as far as 2011, to include killings reportedly perpetrated by the Davao Death Squad. 

"I will be the one who will be imprisoned. I already said before, I assume full responsibility," Duterte said. "That's why I told Bato...keep quiet there and just...point to me." 

"I will answer for all," he vowed. 

Dela Rosa says he will shield himself, Duterte from ICC if elected president 

Meanwhile, Dela Rosa has said that he would shield both Duterte and himself from the ICC probe if he were elected president. 

"I will not only protect President Duterte but also myself because we are both co-accused in the case there," he said in Filipino in an interview with ANC on Tuesday. 

Rights group Karapatan shortly after called on the Commission on Elections to declare him a nuisance candidate. 

"Straight from the horse’s mouth, Bato’s objective for running for president is clear: to protect himself and President Duterte from the ICC’s investigation as he eyes to continue the same murderous policies such as the sham drug war and the brutal counterinsurgency campaigns," the group said. 

"[A] candidate who is explicitly running for self-preservation — and not for the interest of the Filipino people — is nothing more than a shameless nuisance candidate who should be disqualified from the elections."

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