MANILA - Senator-elect Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Tuesday said he would not inhibit from any hearings that would center on the issue of extrajudicial killings.
Dela Rosa, who helmed the administration's drug war as President Rodrigo Duterte's first national police chief, will head the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs under the incoming Congress.
“Bakit ako mag-inhibit? Bakit, ako ba pumatay?” he told reporters.
(Why would I inhibit? Was I the one who killed them?)
To stress his point, Dela Rosa sought a journalist’s opinion if she wants him to inhibit from the investigation.
“Gusto mo mag-inhibit ako, eh di mag-inhibit ako, ako naman, dapat lalabas ang katotohanan, do you think na kung di ako mag-inhibit di lalabas ang katotohanan?” he said.
(If you want me to inhibit then I will inhibit. The truth shall come out. Do you think if I don't inhibit the truth will come out?)
As Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Dela Rosa had drawn criticism for the thousands of deaths linked to the war on drugs.
He had attended several Senate hearings, crying twice as he struggled to defend the police following the slay of a drug-linked mayor while under police custody, and the controversial killing of a teenage boy from the slums.
This time, he would be on the other side of the fence as he officially becomes senator next month. He promised impartiality in his hearings.
"Iba na ako ngayon. Senador na ako," he said.
(I'm different now. I'm now a senator.)
Dela Rosa said he does not have in mind a particular matter to probe yet as public order committee chair, a post currently held by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, also a former police chief.
“Wala akong tina-target na particular na issue. Kung ano ang mag crop-up related to public order, iyun ang tututukan natin,” he said.
(I am not targeting any particular issue. Whatever crops up related to public order, I will focus on that.)
Per the PNP's latest data, more than 6,000 drug suspects were killed in police anti-drug operations from July 2016, when President Rodrigo Duterte took office, until May 31 of this year.
Police have repeatedly said those slain had violently resisted.
Human rights groups, however, believe this figure is understated.