Duterte to Dela Rosa: I'll take the blame on drug war

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 21) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday. assured his former national police chief Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa that he will take the blame for the drug war as the International Criminal Court is set to investigate the controversial policy.

Duterte maintained he will only answer to Philippine courts.

“Eh si Bato na-nerbiyos kasi kasali siya doon sa ‘tokhang’ niya. Sabi ko huwag kang mag-alala. If there is any person who is going to prison, it would be me,” he said during the joint meeting of the National Task Force-Regional Task Force-End Local Communist Armed Conflict in Lucena City, Quezon.

[Translation: Bato is nervous because he is covered by the investigation because of his “tokhang.” I told him that there’s nothing to worry about. If there is any person who is going to prison, it would be me.]

“But it should be a Filipino court manned by a Filipino judge and me prosecuted by a Filipino prosecutor,” Duterte added.

"Tokhang" is a Visayan word that means to knock and plead with drug offenders to stop their illegal activity, but the term has been associated with killing drug suspects.

The ICC earlier found evidence of what it called “crimes against humanity” under the administration's bloody drug war. But Duterte maintained he will not cooperate with the court.

Although the country withdrew from the Rome Statute of the ICC in 2019, the court said it retains jurisdiction over crimes that allegedly happened when the Philippines was still a state party to the treaty.

If ever the court would press Dela Rosa for answers, Duterte said he gave this advice: “I assume full responsibility. Kaya sabi ko kay Bato, ‘huwag ka mag-ano. Keep quiet there and just…’ Ako, ituro mo ako, ‘si Duterte ang nag-utos.’ Kung ano man ‘yang sa listahan mo, ‘utos ni Duterte ‘yan’ and I will answer for all.”

[Translation: I assume full responsibility. That’s why I told Bato, “don’t worry...” Me, just point me, “it was Duterte who commanded me.” Whatever is that on your list, “Duterte said that” and I will answer for all.]

Meanwhile, the President said some overlooked the fact that many civilians fell victim to drug-related crimes.

“Hindi nila nakita ‘yung the other side. Iyong mga Pilipinong namatay. At mind you, marami akong pulis pati military namatay sa itong droga na ito. Kaya mainit talaga ako, galit talaga ako,” he said.

[Translation: They do not see the other side. The Filipinos who died. And mind you, I have many policemen and military men who died because of drugs. That’s why I'm pissed, I’m really angry.]

The ICC said last month it opened an investigation on drug war killings.

Dela Rosa, who is running for president under the administration party PDP-Laban, said he will not allow the ICC to conduct its probe on alleged human rights violations allegedly committed during the drug campaign.

The ICC prosecutor estimated that 12,000 to 30,000 civilians were killed in the drug war between 2016 and 2019. Government data showed that 6,191 suspects died in over 200,000 anti-illegal drug operations as of Aug. 31.