VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Bato wrongly claims he is ‘co-accused’ with Duterte in ICC probe


Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), claimed that he is an accused in the case involving drug-related killings under investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). This is false.

Dela Rosa made the statement after 19 lawmakers, led by former president-now Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, filed a resolution on Feb. 15 urging the House of Representatives to offer “unequivocal support” to former president Rodrigo Duterte in the wake of the ICC’s decision to resume its probe into the killings.

(Read AT A GLANCE: House Resolution to support Duterte vs ICC probe)


During a press conference on Feb. 17, Dela Rosa thanked the legislators who signed the resolution:

“I am very grateful to our colleagues in the House of Representatives, (e)specially to [Senior Deputy Speaker] GMA for spearheading the resolution. I cannot do the same in the Senate since it is very self-serving on my part being (sic) co-accused with the former president.


Source: Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa official Facebook page, Nagbigay reaksyon si Sen. Bato sa ngayo’y isinusulong na H.Res.780 (archive), Feb. 17, 2023


Although Dela Rosa and Duterte were named in the June 2021 request for the investigation by  former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, no suspects in the drug probe have been identified by the Office of the Prosecutor.

“The plethora of public statements made by Duterte and other Philippine government officials supporting and, in certain instances, urging the public to kill suspected drug users and dealers also indicate a State policy to attack civilians,” Bensouda wrote in her 2021 request.

She also noted Dela Rosa’s statements even before he became PNP chief.

“Before being announced as the Duterte administration’s first National Police chief, Dela Rosa explained the ‘focus’ of the forthcoming [War on Drugs] policy ‘will be killing those involved in drugs. There will be deaths in [the] illegal drug trade’,” Bensouda pointed out.

Last Jan. 26, the ICC decided to resume the investigation into Duterte’s drug war and the 2011-2016 Davao Death Squad killings for alleged crimes against humanity. Article 7, paragraph 1 of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, defines crimes against humanity as part of a “widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with the knowledge of the attack.”

According to the ICC website, its prosecutor may request the Pre-Trial Chamber to issue summonses or arrest warrants after identifying the suspects who are most responsible for the crime investigated. The court relies on ICC state parties to enforce these warrants.

The Philippine government notified the court on Feb. 3 that it would appeal the decision to continue with the probe and has until March 13  to file the appeals brief.

(Read ICC grants PH government’s request to extend deadline for filing of appeal brief)


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Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa official Facebook page, Nagbigay reaksyon si Sen. Bato sa ngayo’y isinusulong na H.Res.780, Feb. 17, 2023

International Criminal Court, Public redacted version of “Request for authorisation of an investigation pursuant to article 15(3)”, 24 May 2021, ICC-01/21-7-SECRET-Exp, June 14, 2021

International Criminal Court, Rome Statute, accessed on Feb. 20, 2023

International Criminal Court, How the Court Works, accessed on Feb. 20, 2023

International Criminal Court, Public Redacted Version of “Authorisation pursuant to article 18(2) of the Statute to resume the investigation”, Jan. 26, 2023

International Criminal Court, Decision on the Republic of the Philippines’ application for extension of time to file the appeal brief, Feb. 17, 2023


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)