Bato running for senator in 2019, says he'll push for death penalty

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — The country's former top cop now wants to be a senator.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa on Wednesday confirmed he will vie for a slot in the 2019 senatorial elections.

He said his decision to run was made final when President Rodrigo Duterte told him so.

"All the while I was thinking na Governor ng Davao (del) Sur dahil yun ang unang sinabi niya. So nagbago lately, sabi niya, senador na. 'Yun na ang takbuhin mo," Dela Rosa told Senate reporters shortly after taking his oath as member of the ruling PDP-Laban party.

[Translation: All the while I was thinking I will run for Governor of Davao del Sur because that's what he said. This changed lately, he said, I should run for senator instead.]

He said the President made this statement in August, during a mass oath-taking event of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the regional political party of Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Dela Rosa said he does not know what prompted the change in the President's mind, adding he is willing to follow his orders anyway.

"Ready naman ako anything he says, kung ano, sunod lang ako, kung ano gusto niya (I'm ready to follow anything he says. I'll just follow whatever he wants)," Dela Rosa said.

He said he also considered his position in senatorial surveys. A Pulse Asia survey in April showed he would be one of the 12 winning senators if the 2019 midterm polls were held the day the survey was conducted.

When asked what measure he wants to push for as a senator, Dela Rosa said, "death penalty kaagad (immediately)."

The reinstatement of death penalty was one of President Duterte's campaign promises. It sailed smoothly in the House of Representatives in 2017, leaving its fate to the upper chamber. Death penalty was first abolished in the Philippines in 1986, but reinstated in 1993. It was abolished again in 2006.

Dela Rosa said drug pushers should be sentenced to death "'Pag sabihin mong kasama yung drug users, maraming magrereact diyan (When you say you will include drug users, many will react)," he added.

Dela Rosa was the Philippine National Police chief appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to implement his war on drugs. Dela Rosa retired in January, but Duterte extended the former's term indefinitely until he chose then Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde as replacement.