By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Face the International Criminal Court.
This is the challenge posed by Rise Up for Life and for Rights to former President Rodrigo R. Duterte and former government officials who implemented the bloody campaign against illegal drugs after Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself said that his administration has no intention of rejoining the ICC.
“We challenge Duterte and his henchman turned apologist, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, to face the ICC and allow your narrative to be subjected to a court that would listen to the testimonies and evidences of the victims,” said national coordinator Rubilyn Pitao in a statement.
Dela Rosa was the chief of the Philippine National Police during Duterte’s administration, the agency that implemented the government’s so-called war on drugs.
Marcos Jr. said that there is no need to rejoin the ICC as drug-related killings are investigated in the country.
In a television interview, Kristina Conti of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) asserted that there is “no investigation (on these killings) in the Philippines which will involve the same questions that the ICC is pursuing.”
She added that the supposed investigation being conducted by the government was reviewed by the ICC and found to be wanting.
In his request to Pre-Trial Chamber 1 for the resumption of the investigation in the Philippines, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said that the majority of the information provided by the government “do not seek to establish criminal responsibility and therefore cannot warrant deferral of the ICC’s criminal investigation.”
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Khan also said in his statement that “there are clear indications that crimes against humanity were committed in the Philippines.”
‘Not a surprise’
Marcos Jr.’s refusal to rejoin the ICC is not a surprise for human rights group Karapatan.
Karapatan’s Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that Marcos Jr. already stated during the campaign season that if he were to be president he would not cooperate with the ICC investigation.
“This and his political collusion with the Dutertes, alongside their similar policy views and track records, have been widely viewed as a dangerous combination that engenders a climate of guaranteed impunity. Meanwhile, Duterte has been consistent in mapping out ways to evade his accountability in the extrajudicial killings and other rights violations in his sham drug war,” Palabay said in a statement.
“What can we expect from someone who has shamelessly branded victims of human rights violations — people who have been killed, disappeared, tortured, illegally arrested and detained, among others — during his father’s dictatorial rule as greedy people who are only after money?” she added.
For International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), Marcos Jr.’s decision is “part of the continued and ongoing state cover-up of crimes against humanity.”
Peter Murphy, chairperson of ICHRP Global Council, said they believe that “the confirmation that the Philippines is out of the ICC is an ominous sign for human rights as the only rationale for not being under its jurisdiction is to shelter perpetrators from prosecution and the intention to continue committing such crimes.”
“Despite this deplorable decision by the Marcos government, there remain grounds for the continued investigation of the Duterte presidency’s alleged crimes against humanity,” he added.
The Pre-Trial Chamber 1 actually authorized to commence the investigation on killings related to Duterte’s so-called war on drugs in September last year. But in November, the Philippine government requested the ICC to defer the investigation saying that the government is looking into the cases of extrajudicial killings.
In July this year, after carefully going through the information that the Philippine government submitted to back its deferral request, Khan asked the Pre-Trial Chamber 1 to resume with the investigation “as quickly as possible”.
As part of due process, the Pre-Trial Chamber 1 invited the Philippine government to submit any additional information by Sept. 8 this year.
Meanwhile, Karapatan called on the Pre-Trial Chamber 1 to commence its investigation into the crimes committed by Duterte and his cohorts. They lauded the “tenacity and courage of the victims and their families in pursuing complaints at the ICC.”
“We will continue to support efforts to hold accountable government officials who ordered, incited, and/or paved the way for the commission of the brazen mass murder of mostly poor Filipinos during the Duterte administration,” Palabay said. (RTS, RVO)