By Hannah Torregoza
Opposition Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said the thousands of dead bodies of Filipinos who were killed in the Duterte government’s brutal drug war is proof of the extrajudicial killings committed by the present administration.
Pangilinan, president of the formerly ruling Liberal Party, said this in response to lawyer Jude Sabio’s move to withdraw one of the complaints filed against President Duterte and some government officials before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“After his 180-degree turn, he has no credibility whatsoever,” Pangilinan said. “The public should reject this balimbing (turncoat). He is lying and he knows it.”
Sabio had earlier said he is withdrawing the communication he filed before the ICC because he doesn’t want it to be used by the opposition for their political agenda.
The lawyer’s announcement came months after his public falling-out with former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV over a billing dispute. Sabio claimed an unpaid billing of P700,000 for handling the cases of Davao death squad whistleblower Edgar Matobato.
Last year, Sabio also claimed that Trillanes tried to recruit him to lawyer for Peter Joemel “Bikoy” Advincula, the hooded figure in the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos.
Initially, Advincula linked the President and his family to the illegal drug trade but later retracted his statements and instead accused opposition figures including Trillanes, Vice President Leni Robredo, and other LP allies of trying to smear the President’s name in the sedition complaint pending before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
According to Sabio, it was Trillanes who asked him to file the ICC communication.
Trillanes, in an earlier statement, also slammed Sabio’s 180-degree turn.
Pangilinan, however, said he is confident the ICC will not backtrack from its investigation into the crimes against humanity committed by the Duterte administration.
“The bodies of thousands of EJK’d Filipinos is proof of a man-made disaster, if not mass murder as government policy, that the ICC is mandated to investigate and address,” Pangilinan said.
For the meantime, the LP stalwart said the government should instead focus on pressing matters, like relief and rescue operations for residents affected by the Taal volcano eruption, rather than on politics.
“There has been a series of natural disasters, from the successive earthquakes in Mindanao, the Christmas typhoon, and the latest Taal eruption,” Pangilinan said.
“Instead of political attacks by the administration, everyone should be focusing on the tens of thousands of our affected kababayans whose lives have been dramatically changed and whose livelihoods have been severely affected, lalong-lalo na ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda (especially our farmers and fishermen).
“Ang mga kababayan nating mga OFW sa Gitnang Silangan ay naghahanap din ng kaligtasan sa mga nag-uumpugang pwersa (our OFW countrymen in the Middle East are also asking for safety from the warring states).”
Likewise, the senator pressed the government to consider returning the P11-billion calamity fund that was transferred to the President’s intelligence fund.
“At dahil nalipat ang 11 billion pesos na calamity fund sa intelligence fund, dapat ‘atang bawiin natin ang halagang ito sa harap ng maraming sakunang kinakaharap ng pamilyang Pilipino (And because the P11 billion calamity fund was transferred to the intelligence fund, I think we should take back these funds in light of the calamities facing Filipino families),” he said.