Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa is hurting. Why, oh why is the United States doing this to him, laments the former police chief turned rookie senator — this being the widely bruited about but unconfirmed report that the US Embassy has cancelled his visa and banned him from entering that country, as part of US government efforts to sanction human rights violators.
Not one word has been heard from the US Embassy commenting on the allegation either way, but that has not stopped Dela Rosa from floridly expressing his unhappiness.
Granting the report is true, that means he can no longer visit his siblings and relatives in the Big Apple, he lamented.
And what to do if his boxing idol and colleague Sen. Manny Pacquiao has a fight in the United States? Woe, oh woe. “Sino bang masaya (Who can be happy with this)?” he asked.
The United States must have heard wrong, he insisted: If it’s true “that the basis of the cancellation is the involvement in EJK (extrajudicial killings), well, they are very biased, they are misinformed, they are misled by their informants.”
Then Dela Rosa turned to the media: “You, the media, right here in the Philippines, did I encourage (the police) to kill the drug suspects? Did I order (them) to kill? Did I cover up the wrongdoings of our policemen?”
Well, let’s see…
It was during Dela Rosa’s stint as chief of the Philippine National Police from July 2016 to April 2018 that EJKs were at their highest and most prevalent. Various reports during his leadership said that at least 4,000 were killed, and perhaps up to 12,000 if the killings by vigilantes and riding-tandem assassins were included.
In launching the Duterte administration’s antidrug war operations and serving as its chief implementer, Dela Rosa remained unmoved in the face of widespread accusations of summary killings by policemen, and routinely echoed the police narrative that those killed invariably fought it out (“nanlaban”) with the authorities, despite testimonies of victims’ kin and other evidence to the contrary.
It was during Dela Rosa’s reign when 17-year-old Kian delos Santos was barbarously killed by Caloocan police while kneeling and begging for his life. CCTV cameras had captured the crime, and yet Dela Rosa would spend the next days and weeks defending the police conduct and sliming the Delos Santos family with insinuations that they, including the young Kian, were into the drug trade — accusations that were belied by neighbors and barangay officials in the community.
When three policemen were eventually convicted of Kian’s murder, not one word of apology or regret was ever heard from Dela Rosa’s mouth, even with Judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr.’s ringing condemnation of the deed all but a rebuke of the brutal methods the Duterte administration and its chief henchman had brought to their centerpiece drug war: “A shoot first, think later attitude can never be countenanced in a civilized society. Never has homicide or murder been a function of law enforcement.”
Did Dela Rosa order any killings? Did he encourage the police to kill drug suspects?
From an Agence France-Presse report published on Aug. 26, 2016, in The Guardian: “The Philippines’ police chief has called on drug users to kill traffickers and burn their homes… ‘Why don’t you give them a visit, pour gasoline on their homes and set these on fire to register your anger,’ Ronald dela Rosa said in a speech aired on television on Friday. ‘They’re all enjoying your money, money that destroyed your brain. You know who the drug lords are. Would you like to kill them? Go ahead. Killing them is allowed because you are the victim.’
“Dela Rosa was speaking on Thursday to several hundred drug users who had surrendered in the central Philippines. His comments followed those of the president, Rodrigo Duterte, which have sparked criticism from the United Nations and human rights groups.”
Are those words damning enough?
There’s worse. When a 3-year-old girl was killed in a police antidrug operation in Rizal in June this year, Dela Rosa dismissed the outcry and said, “Shit happens.”
As Human Rights Watch had demanded before Dela Rosa’s retirement in 2018, the man should be held accountable for the drug war bloodbath, and for leaving behind “a police force with a sordid human rights record unmatched since the Marcos dictatorship.”
But all Dela Rosa worries about and publicly rues these days is that he may no longer be able to enjoy R&R in the United States. Well then, he said petulantly, he’ll go to China instead. Aww, poor guy. Is the country about to endure another crying episode in the Senate, and at Christmas yet?
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