By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Human rights advocates expressed their support to the families of victims of President Duterte’s so-called war on drugs who have now submitted their representations to the International Criminal Court’s Victims Participation and Reparations Section.
As part of the process of the ICC’s investigation, the victims are given the right to submit their views, concerns and expectations to support the Office of Prosecutor’s request for investigation. The deadline of the submission was last week, Aug. 13.
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) Chairman Neri Colmenares, one of the lawyers for the families, said that many have submitted their representation to the ICC, not only from Metro Manila but across the country.
Originally, there were only seven mothers who accused Duterte of crimes against humanity in the ICC. In a previous Bulatlatan episode, Maria Kristina Conti, counsel of the victims, said families and victims who survived Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs can also submit representation to the ICC.
On Monday, Aug. 16, supporters from different organizations and professions expressed their support for the families’ quest for justice. They call on the ICC judges to grant the request to open an investigation in the Philippines so that Duterte and his cohorts would be held accountable for their crimes.
“We will be with them (in every) stage of the process; we will be with them until the end,” said Antonio La Viña, lawyer and convenor of Mga Manananggol Laban sa Extrajudicial Killings or Manlaban sa EJK.
He added that it does not really matter if Duterte will not cooperate if the ICC pursues its investigation because there are many ways to continue with the process.
Meanwhile, Llore Benedicto Pasco, a relative of an EJK victim, said they are elated with the progress of the case filed against Duterte in the ICC. She added that they are hoping for the new ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, to look into their case so that an investigation in the Philippines would push through.
Pasco said that after more than five years, it is only now that they see the light.
“We will not stop. We have the courage because we are supported by our brave lawyers and our organization. We know this is a long fight but we will fight for all the victims of killings in every way we can,” she said.
Conti said that all families want the ICC to proceed with the investigation. Some also expressed willingness to participate in the trial in the ICC.
“For them, whatever the stage is, they want to forward or volunteer everything that they know,” Conti said.
She added that for the families, their suffering is because of Duterte.
“For our part, what we really call for is justice. We know that the struggle is difficult, as a friend commented, ‘Good luck. Pero mag-ingat dahil mabigat ang kalaban,’” Pasco said.
That is why she has been encouraging other relatives of victims of Duterte’s war on drugs, egging them to have the courage to come forward and speak so that they will succeed with their fight.
“This is our fervent wish because the killings never stopped,” Pasco said.
End Duterte tyranny and dynasty
The fight for justice is not only in the ICC but also here in the country, said Colmenares, that is why he is calling for Filipinos to unite and join the effort to end Duterte’s tyranny and dynasty.
“We ask those who support Duterte until now to please support this undertaking of the people to end this tyranny and dynasty because it’s the survival of the nation that is at stake here. We cannot sacrifice the future of our children and the next generation of Filipinos in exchange of our loyalty to a temporary president,” Colmenares said. (RVO)