MANILA, Philippines — In revoking Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa, the U.S. State Department has exercised its authority to deny visas to persons implicated in gross human rights abuses, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“Their action represents a shift in US policy towards the Philippines government and its ‘war on drugs,’ and sends the message that the US won’t do business with government officials implicated in atrocities,” said John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch, in a statement Thursday.
Sifton said the next step is for the United States government to make clear that this policy extends to all members of the government who are implicated in mass killings associated with the “drug war.”
Dela Rosa was President Rodrigo Duterte’s police chief when the drug war began after the President took office in June 2016.
Dela Rosa presided over a Philippine National Police (PNP) that routinely shot and killed drug suspects, claiming without proof they resisted arrest.
“Investigations by human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, and by the media, have found numerous instances in which the police planted weapons and drugs on victims to cover-up the killings. Dela Rosa has been as vociferous in carrying out and defending the ‘drug war’s’ brutality as President Duterte has been in justifying it,” said Sifton.
“Dela Rosa may still have a date with justice. The Duterte government has shown it is incapable of carrying out appropriate investigations into killings, but the International Criminal Court (ICC) still can,” said Sifton.
Although the Philippines has officially withdrawn from the ICC, the court, which is conducting a preliminary examination into killings during the anti-drug campaign, retains the power to investigate alleged crimes against humanity that occurred while Dela Rosa was police chief, and any other crimes “occurring in the future in the context of the same situation,” he also said.
“Dela Rosa may soon enough face far bigger problems than trouble with his visa to the United States,” Sifton said.
Dela Rosa on Wednesday confirmed he’s no longer allowed to travel to the United States for now since his visa has been canceled. (Tracy Ang/IAMIGO/Currentph.com)