Dela Rosa admits refraining from visiting US amid talks he'd be barred

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 14) — Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa has not visited the United States in a while for fear of being denied entry.

Dela Rosa told CNN Philippines on Saturday this was the reason he missed watching colleague and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao's win against Keith Thurman, Jr. in Las Vegas, Nevada, in July.

"Hindi ko na lang tinry manood ng last Pacman fight kasi baka hindi nga ako papasukin at mapahiya lang ako. May tsismis na akong naririnig noon pa prior to the fight," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: I just did not try to watch Pacman's last fight because I might just be barred and be embarassed. I had been hearing rumors even prior to the fight.]

Reports say the lawmaker's US visa has been canceled over alleged extrajudicial killings under his watch as chief of the Philippine National Police from 2016 to 2018. Dela Rosa said he has not received any word from the US government that he could no longer visit the country.

"Maybe to confirm it is for me to travel to the US once again and find out if I would be denied entry," he even quipped.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Dela Rosa as top cop in 2016, entrusting him to lead the bloody war on drugs. Dela Rosa retired from the police force in April 2018. Government data show more than 4,000 suspects killed in anti-drug operations during that time. The government's death toll is now at 5,500, but local and international human rights groups said there could be thousands more.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Criminal Court are looking into the country's human rights situation. The ICC targets to complete by next year a preliminary examination to determine if it would investigate the drug war.

The US Senate's Appropriations Committee in September also approved a proposal to deny entry to Philippine government officials behind Senator Leila De Lima's "wrongful detention." It did not name any Filipino official but Dela Rosa was PNP chief when De Lima was arrested and detained in 2017 over drug charges, which the opposition insists were all fabricated.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.