MANILA (UPDATE) - Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa on Wednesday confirmed that the United States canceled his visa after he inquired about its status last week.
In December 2019, news website Politiko.com reported that Dela Rosa, who spearheaded President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody war on drugs during his stint as police chief, has been banned from entering the United States.
"We received their official answer the day before my birthday, January 20. What a good birthday gift,” Dela Rosa told Senate reporters in a chance interview.
In its letter, the US embassy neither gave a date nor reason when and why the visa was canceled, he said.
"No reason was stated,” he said.
“Basta mag-apply lang daw ako ulit kung gusto ko kasi the present visa was cancelled," he said.
Dela Rosa said he was not keen on asking the US government to elaborate its reasons for the cancellation, but admitted that he was dismayed by the revocation of his 10-year, multiple entry visa.
“Kung sama ng loob, tao lang tayo. Talagang sasama ang loob mo. I’ve been helping my counterparts from the US government... we’ve been working together then after that ganito? It’s quite bad,” he said.
“My whole 34 years of police service, marami na din kaming pinagdaanang samahan ng US counterparts,” he said.
“Sino ba masaya diyan? Sayang din hindi na ako makapunta doon,” he said, noting that he had several relatives in the US.
Dela Rosa said he will not re-apply for US entry, unless the President decides to travel to the world’s largest economy for an official function.
“Hindi na siguro, baka sabihin na masyado ako makulit... Pero kung pupunta si Presidente, sasabihan niya ako na sumama ka, yun ang ilalagay kong reason [for applying for a visa],” he said.
Related to war on drugs?
Dela Rosa said the cancellation might be linked to his supposed involvement in the extrajudicial killings (EJK) allegedly perpetuated by police under Duterte’s intensified campaign against narcotics.
“Baka related na diyan [sa EJK],” he said, noting that he first received the tip about his visa before Senator Manny Pacquiao’s Las Vegas boxing bout in July 2019, long before US senators mentioned that jailers of Philippine opposition Senator Leila de Lima will be barred from entering the US territory.
Several senators, including Senate President Vicente Sotto III, dismissed the ban on De Lima’s jailers as fake news, but Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the provision in the US budget was legitimate.
The US, however, has yet to release an official list that identifies De Lima's jailers.
De Lima, one of Duterte's most vocal critics, was detained in February 2017 due to her alleged ties with the production and sale of illegal drugs inside the national penitentiary under her watch as Justice secretary.
De Lima has refuted the allegations and called her detention as politically motivated.