The man responsible for conducting Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs has defended the killing of a three-year-old girl during a drugs raid by saying “shit happens.”
Ronald Dela Rosa, known as Bato, is now a senator in the Philippines government, but as police chief led the bloody war on drugs that has come to symbolize Duterte’s reign. At a press conference Thursday, Dela Rosa was asked about the death of the toddler Myka Ulpina, who was shot dead in a province near Manila last week during a police sting operation.
“We are living in an imperfect world,” Dela Rosa said. “Would a police officer want to shoot a child? Never, because they have children as well. But shit happens during operations.”
Dela Rosa claimed the girl’s father, who was also killed in the operation, was a drug dealer and had used his daughter as a human shield — an account the girl’s mother disputes.
Dela Rosa was handpicked by Duterte in June 2016 to lead his crackdown on drugs, and over the next two years, the 57-year-old led a bloody campaign that often targeted poor drug users and low-level pushers.
Authorities in the Philippines have admitted that 6,600 people have been killed in the last three years, but human rights groups estimate that the real figure is as great as 27,000.
On Thursday, more than two dozen countries called on the UN to investigate Duterte’s war on drugs.
Iceland filed the draft resolution asking the UN Human Rights Council to address what 11 U.N. rights experts last month called “a staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings.” If the draft resolution is approved, the council will task rights chief Michelle Bachelet with preparing a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines.
The council is expected to vote on the draft resolution before the 41st session ends on July 12. A spokesperson for Duterte called it “outrageous interference” by “foreign propagandists.”
This is not the first time the Duterte’s drugs’ war has faced international scrutiny. In February 2018, the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched an initial inquiry into allegations of crimes against humanity committed by the Philippines president.
In March this year, the Philippines withdrew from the ICC, a move critics slammed as an attempt to avoid the investigation.
This week's renewed calls for an investigation into the war on drugs have amplified critics of the regime's indiscriminate killings.
“This Council can no longer stay silent in the face of the killing of thousands of men, women and children and the devastation of their families,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement Thursday. “For children like Myka, and all the other victims, this Council should urgently ensure an investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines.”
Cover: In this Oct. 24, 2017, file photo, then Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa gestures as he talks to reporters at police headquarters in metropolitan Manila,. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)