Thursday, January 23, 2020

Human Rights Watch says Dela Rosa may face 'bigger' problems than canceled US visa soon

Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, one of the architects of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug war, may soon face “far bigger” problems than a canceled US visa, the Human Rights Watch said Thursday. HRW’s Asia Advocacy Director John Sifton said that former top cop Dela Rosa “may still have a date with justice” and “may soon enough face far bigger problems than trouble with his visa to the United States.”

Dela Rosa said the US embassy did not specify why his visa was revoked but he was informed that he could apply again. The senator believed the cancellation of his visa was due to allegations of extrajudicial killings during his stint as the chief of the Philippine National Police.

Sifton said that with the revocation of Dela Rosa’s visa, the US State Department “has exercised its authority to deny visas to persons implicated in gross human rights abuses.” He added that the United States’ action represents a shift in their 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.”

“The next step is for the US 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,’” Sifton added. The International Criminal Court is conducting a preliminary examination into the Duterte government’s drug war that claimed thousands of Filipino lives.

The prosecutor of the ICC seeks to finalize the preliminary examination into Duterte and his men's alleged crimes against humanity in 2020. Global Magnitsky Act

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra for his part said the United States need not explain why it canceled the senator’s visa.

“It is the absolute prerogative of any sovereign state to determine who may enter its territory, and it does not have to offer any explanation as to its action,” Guevarra said. He added: “Like any other ordinary Filipino citizen who wants to visit the US, Sen. Dela Rosa will just have to try and try.”

Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go meanwhile said the revocation of Dela Rosa’s visa may be due to the signing of the 2020 US federal budget which contained a provision on banning Sen. Leila de Lima’s jailers from entering America. “If it is, I have said this many times before and I am saying this again. De Lima’s detention is in obedience to a lawful order of the trial court,” Go said in a report by News5.

The US Senate has also passed a resolution invoking the Global Magnitsky Act and calling on American President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on Philippine officials involved in De Lima’s detention and in alleged extrajudicial killings in the drug war.