Reacting to the recent findings of forensic pathology expert Dr. Raquel Fortun that uncovered inconsistencies in the autopsy reports of drug war victims, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said he was willing to be hanged if a local court convicts him for any wrongdoing. This has no basis.
At least four times in a 30-minute talk, the senator–who is not facing any charges related to the bloody drug war–insisted that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has no jurisdiction over the Philippines. It needs context.
Speaking on TeleRadyo with news anchor Henry Omaga-Diaz, Dela Rosa dared Fortun to file cases based on her autopsy findings. He said:
“Pwede niyo akong bitayin dito anytime kung na-prove ninyo diyan na ako’y nagkakasala. You can hang me in front of the Filipino people. You can hang me through the decision of our Filipino courts but, my God, not by a foreigner.”
(You can hang me here anytime if you prove that I’ve committed a crime. You can hang me in front of the Filipino people. You can hang me through the decision of our Filipino courts but, my God, not by a foreigner.)
Source: ABS-CBN News Youtube Channel, Omaga Diaz Report | TeleRadyo (4 February 2023), Feb. 4, 2023, watch from 33:41 to 33:56
Dela Rosa was the chief of the Philippine National Police in the first two years of the implementation of the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign. In July last year, he filed Senate Bill No. 198 imposing the death sentence on large-scale illegal drug traffickers. This failed to pass and as of writing, there is no capital punishment in the country.
In the same interview, the senator questioned Fortun’s statement that many incidents of alleged extrajudicial killings are “not yet investigated” and a lot of the evidence in these cases were “planted.” Dela Rosa pointed out that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) could look into Fortun’s claims and charges filed in local courts, not the ICC. He said:
“Kung totoo ‘yang findings ni Fortun, eh ‘di ipa-file. May NBI naman tayo nagko-conduct ng investigation. I-file ‘yan. Kaya nga nag-imbestiga siya para makakuha tayo ng ebidensya. Eh ‘di i-file dito sa ating korte, hindi doon sa ICC dahil nga wala silang jurisdiction sa atin.”
(If Fortun’s findings are true, then file a case. We have the NBI that conducts investigations. File it. She is investigating so we can get evidence. File it here in [Philippine] courts, not at the ICC because they have no jurisdiction over us.)
Source: watch from 32:23 to 32:45
Even if charges were filed against Dela Rosa and he is proven guilty, a local court cannot sentence him to hanging because the country already outlawed the death penalty on June 24, 2006 when then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act 9346. This outlawed capital punishment in the country, which was previously allowed and carried out through lethal injection.
In addition, the Philippines voted for the global suspension of the death penalty along with 122 state-parties to the United Nations in a Dec. 16, 2020 resolution.
(Read VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Sen. Bato Dela Rosa falsely claims that lethal injection is the ‘universally accepted mode’ of death penalty)
On the senator’s questioning of the ICC’s jurisdiction, the Philippines continues to be held under obligation for incidents that occurred during its membership in the court from November 2011 to March 17, 2019, according to Article 127, paragraph 2 of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC.
VERA Files Fact Check has already debunked at least two other officials from the Justice department who made similar inaccurate claims.
- VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Justice Secretary’s comment on ICC jurisdiction needs context
- VERA FILES FACT CHECK: For the second time, Justice secretary’s claim on ICC jurisdiction over PH needs context
- VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Remulla skips context on Philippines’ membership in the ICC again
- #AnoRaw: DOJ spokesperson’s claim on ICC jurisdiction needs context
In early February, Fortun found a third bullet stuck in the neck of Kian Delos Santos, a 17-year-old student shot dead during an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City in August 2017. The discovery came almost five years after Caloocan policemen were convicted for the murder of the teenager, who was reported to have sustained at least two gunshots.
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ABS-CBN News Youtube Channel, Omaga Diaz Report | TeleRadyo (4 February 2023), Feb. 4, 2023
Senate of the Philippines, Senate Bill No. 198, July 7, 2022
Official Gazette of the Philippines, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9346, June 24, 2006
Senate of the Philippines, Republic Act No. 9346, June 24, 2006
Supreme Court E-Library, Republic Act No. 8177, March 20, 1996
International Criminal Court, Rome Statute, Accessed Feb. 6, 2023
Inquirer.net, Bullet found in Kian’s neck after 5 years, 2 autopsies, Feb. 3, 2023
Inquirer.net, 3 policemen guilty of killing Kian delos Santos — court, Nov. 29, 2018
ABS-CBN News, 3 cops found guilty of murder over Kian Delos Santos slay, Nov. 29, 2018
CNN Philippines, 3 cops found guilty of murdering Kian delos Santos, Nov. 29, 2018
Reuters, Shot and dumped by a pigsty: a schoolboy killed in Philippines drugs war, Aug. 25, 2017
The New York Times, Funeral for Teenager Killed by Philippine Police Galvanizes Duterte Critics, Aug. 26, 2017
(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.)