Bato admits fearing ICC arrest, detention

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Bato admits fearing ICC arrest, detention
Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa presided over the Senate hearing of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs joint with Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development on Tuesday, which inquired on the "Ayuda Scam" in Davao Del Norte and Davao De Oro.
Jesse Bustos / The Philippine STAR

MANILA, Philippines —  Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa fears the day he might get an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his role in carrying out the war on drugs, which left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead.

He said his fear stemmed not from the inevitability of his detention, but from the fact that he might never see his three grandchildren once he is detained at the ICC detention chamber in The Hague. As Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Dela Rosa had implemented former president Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, however, said that with President Marcos saying the government will “not lift a finger” to assist the ICC in its probe, the court cannot enforce an arrest warrant in the Philippines.

Guevarra told “Storycon” on Cignal TV’s One News that the ICC relies on local enforcement to serve arrest warrants.

Dela Rosa or Duterte can be arrested only if they go to a country that belongs to the ICC. Guevarra said the ICC cannot bring its own team to the Philippines.

“I’m afraid of getting detained far away from my grandchildren, who I love very much,” Dela Rosa, who turned 62 last Sunday, said during a press briefing yesterday.

“I love my apo (grandchildren) very much, and I fear that they will grow up without their grandfather,” he added.

“I’m just afraid of not seeing my grandchildren if I am detained far away at The Hague. How can they visit me? They will grow up lolo (grandfather)-less, poor them,” the senator told ANC.

Dela Rosa then turned his ire on the most vocal supporter of the ICC’s drug war investigation – his nemesis, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who has claimed having information that an arrest warrant is underway.

“Trillanes is a great destabilizer who just wants to destabilize the relationship between the Marcoses and the Dutertes,” Dela Rosa said.

He also lauded President Marcos, who has stressed the government’s position against the ICC investigation as a breach of the country’s sovereignty.

The President has reiterated his order for the government not to cooperate with ICC probers visiting the country, after Dela Rosa dared Marcos to “man up” and stay true to his earlier promise to the senator.

“I salute the President for that bold statement of protecting our sovereignty. He is a President and a man of his word. If that’s your birthday gift for me, thank you Mr. President,” Dela Rosa said as he gave Marcos a salute.

Without its own police force, the ICC relies on the cooperation of its member states for support in enforcing arrests.

In 2019, the Philippines pulled out of the Rome Statute that created the ICC, but this did not stop the court from continuing the investigation.

‘Be man enough’

The representative of the youth party-list at the House of Representatives yesterday called on Dela Rosa to be “man enough” to take responsibility for the massive drug war that the previous administration waged, which resulted in the killings of thousands of people.

“Huwag kang pa-victim masyado. Hindi pang-aapi ang imbestigasyon (Don’t act too much as if you’re the victim. Investigation is not persecution),” Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel remarked as prosecutor Irene Khan of the ICC paid a visit to the country, ostensibly to find out allegations of human rights violations during Dela Rosa’s term as PNP chief.

“Senator Bato is even lucky because he is given due process and a chance to explain, unlike the thousands of Filipinos, especially the youth, who were killed in the fake drug war just because they were suspected by police,” Manuel said.

“He should be brave enough to face any possible charges or be held accountable,” he challenged the senator.

For Manuel, Dela Rosa seems paranoid if the investigation had already commenced because the senator knows that the pieces of evidence against him and Duterte are heavy, many and undeniable.

In a statement, Manuel, a member of the three-man Makabayan bloc at the House, vowed to help all the victims of Duterte’s Oplan Tokhang, especially the youth, and to hold accountable those responsible for all the innocent and young lives lost during the previous administration’s reign.

The young lawmaker made his promise, even if no less than Marcos rejected to extend any help to ICC.

“Don’t be a coward; face drug war charges. The youth will fight for the accountability of those behind the drug war and political killings in the previous regime. Those hindering justice will also be held responsible,” Manuel said. – Delon Porcalla, Sheila Crisostomo, Helen Flores, Nillicent Bautista

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