Former police chief Bato Dela Rosa files candidacy for senator

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Former Bureau of Corrections chief Ronald Dela Rosa filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at around 11:00 a.m.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — Former Philippine National Police Chief Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa is officially in the running for the Senate.

Dela Rosa filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at around 11:00 a.m. on Friday, accompanied by his wife and daughter. He is effectively resigned from his position as Bureau of Correction Chief, which he took on earlier this year.

"I will focus on law enforcement, safety and security, law and order, and of course corrections," Dela Rosa told the press.

He admitted that he was more inclined to run as senator than as governor of Davao del Sur, and it sealed the deal when President Rodrigo Duterte urged him to go for it. "I am too young to retire," he said. "Alam kong malakas pa ako. Marami akong ma-deliver sa taumbayan [I know I'm still strong. I can still deliver a lot to our countrymen]."

Dela Rosa is one of seven candidates running under PDP-Laban, and the second to file his COC from the ruling party. He said his regional party is Hugpong ng Pagbabago, which was founded by Davao Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte.

READ: Only 7 senatorial bets to run under Duterte's party

PDP-Laban President Koko Pimentel, who is seeking re-election, filed his COC on Thursday. Singer Freddie Aguilar also said he was running under PDP-Laban, but Pimentel denied this.

Dela Rosa vows to push for the death penalty, particularly for drug trafficking and other heinous crimes like murder and rape.

The former police chief was Duterte's right hand man as he led the bloody war on drugs for two years. About 4,000 people have died in police operations under the anti-illegal drugs campaign, but human rights watchdogs estimate about 13,000 deaths — including those from vigilante-style killings.

Dela Rosa condemned extrajudicial killings, but would not admit they existed.

"Imbestigahan iyan at kasuhan ang mga dapat managot — kung may EJK," he said. "Basta ako, I do not condone [it]. Galit na galit ako sa mga EJK."

[Translation: Those should be investigate and cases should be filed against those accountable — if EJKS exist. But for me, I don't condone (it). I'm mad at EJKs.]

Dela Rosa clarified he was referring to police abuse under the drug war, which he admitted happened — particularly in the cases of slain teen Kian Delos Santos and Korean national Jee Ick Joo. He maintained police violence in these cases were not sanctioned by the state.

"Hindi ko dine-deny. But hinuli natin, kinasuhan natin," said Dela Rosa. "Mga walang *** ang gumagawa niyan… mga duwag."

[Translation: I don't deny that. But we caught them, and filed a case against them… Those who did that have no balls… They're cowards.]

"Gusto niyong lumalaban?" he added, referring to rogue copes. "Makipagbarilan kayo sa akin… Hindi yung patayin mo 'yung wala kalaban-laban."

[Translation: You want to fight? Have a shootout with me… Don't kill those who can't put up a fight.]

Other PDP-Laban members who are expected to file their certificates of candidacy in the coming days are Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Francis Tolentino, Makati 1st District Rep. Monsour del Rosario, and Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Dong Mangudadatu.