VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Dela Rosa repeats wrong claim he faces case in ICC


Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa inaccurately said during a Senate hearing that he has a case before the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to his campaign against illegal drugs. He also misleadingly said he will continue the campaign even if he is “hanged” by the Netherlands-based court.

Dela Rosa claimed last Feb. 17 that he and former president Rodrigo Duterte are “co-accused” in a case in the ICC due to the latter’s controversial “war on drugs”. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Bato wrongly claims he is ‘co-accused’ with Duterte in ICC probe)


During the May 23 hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, the former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) expressed frustration over the involvement of 49 anti-narcotics police operatives in an attempted cover-up in the arrest of their fellow officer Rodolfo Mayo Jr., who reportedly owns a lending company in Manila where at least 990 kilos of shabu worth P6.7 billion were seized in October 2022.

Dela Rosa said:

“Ang kinasasama ng loob ko dito sa inyo,… makinig kayong lahat mga pulis. Ako, umaabot na ‘yong kaso ko sa ICC dahil sa paglalaban natin sa droga, dahil sa ating war on drugs. Tapos kayo pala, pera-pera ang iniisip ninyo. Kayo pa ang pasok sa sindikato.”

(What I feel bad about you in this … all of you cops, listen. My case has reached the ICC because we’re fighting against drugs, because of our fight against drugs. And you are only thinking about money. You are even part of the syndicate.)


Source: Senate of the Philippines official YouTube channel, Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs (May 23, 2023), May 23, 2023, watch from 02:37:07 to 02:37:32

In the latter part of the nearly six-hour hearing, he said:

“Ang buhay ko naka-dedicate na dito sa anti-drugs. ‘Yong adbokasiya ko ‘yan hanggang mamatay ako. Lalabanan ko ‘yang anti-drugs na ‘yan kahit na bitayin ‘nyo ko sa ICC, kahit sa’n tayo aabot dito.” 

(My life is dedicated to this anti-drugs [campaign].  It’s my advocacy until I die. I’ll fight drugs even if they hang me in the ICC, wherever this goes.)


Source: watch from 04:44:56 to 04:45:08


Although Dela Rosa was named in the request to launch the drug war probe in 2021, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan has yet to identify any suspects who will be charged with crimes against humanity that occurred in the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign.

Aside from Dela Rosa, former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who requested to open the full-blown probe, cited Duterte and his other high-ranking officials, such as former Justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, for inciting violence in the drug war, leading to the killings of thousands of suspected drug personalities.

The senator also gave a misleading claim when he said he is ready to be hanged by the ICC for his fight against illegal drugs. The international tribunal imposes only a  jail term of up to 30 years or life imprisonment and/or fines on suspects convicted of  international crimes.

As PNP chief from July 2016 to April 2018, Dela Rosa implemented Duterte’s brutal war on drugs. The 12,000 to 30,000 drug-related killings, which is an estimate by Khan, and other crimes, such as arbitrary detention and sexual violence, from July 2016 to March 16, 2019 are the focus of the ICC probe.

Khan’s investigation also covers alleged crimes against humanity that occurred in the Davao region from November 2011 to June 2016, including the killings by the “Davao Death Squad” vigilante group.


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Senate of the Philippines official YouTube channel, Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs (May 23, 2023), May 23, 2023

International Criminal Court official website, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Accessed May 24, 2023

International Criminal Court, Public redacted version of “Request for authorisation of an investigation pursuant to article 15(3)”, June 14, 2021

Senate of the Philippines official, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa – Senate of the Philippines, Accessed May 23, 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.)