Lawyer Neri Colmenares believes that the case filed against President Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC) is strong enough to convict him for human rights violations over his administration’s bloody war on drugs.
In an interview on Teleradyo, Colmenares assured that they considered many factors before choosing the specific cases to file against Duterte.
“Alam mo na President Duterte ang kalaban mo. Dapat malakas na mga kaso kung saan may mga witnesses, nakita talaga ang pagpatay at identified talaga ang mga pumatay na mga kapulisan (We know that we are against President Duterte. We need to file strong cases with witnesses, who really saw the killing and who can identify the police who did it),” he said.
“Tumingin kami ng maraming factors para piliin ‘yung mga ipa-file na kaso at medyo malakas ang mga kaso na ito (We look at a lot of factors to choose which cases to file and these are strong cases),” Colmenares added.
Outgoing International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that preliminary investigation has found “reasonable basis” to believe that crime against humanity of murder was committed under the country’s anti-drug war by security forces.
She requested for judicial authorization to proceed with investigation regarding the country’s drug war situation. The case, however, will be soon turned over to Bensouda’s successor, Karim Khan.
Colmenares, who represents the seven families from rights group Rise Up for Life who filed the case before the ICC in 2018, said this will not be a challenge because Khan is also a human rights defender.
“May karanasan ito (He has the experience) and we believe na he is very good in terms of human rights, ensuring that human rights is protected in the merits siyempre (of course),” he added.
Khan will not just drop the Office of the Prosecutor’s filing to the Pre-Trial Chambers, Colmenares said, adding that he will have the same level of commitment to the case as Bensouda.
“Yes, we believe that. Ang susuportahan ni Prosecutor Khan dito ay ‘yung merits ng kaso. Bago nagdesisyon si Bensouda, nag-consult siguro naman ‘yan sa incoming prosecutor (Prosecutor Khan will support the merits of the case. Before Bensouda decided, she surely consulted with the incoming prosecutor),” Colmenares said.
In a separate interview on ANC’s Dateline Philippines, the rights lawyer scoffed at the government’s refusal to cooperate with the ICC probe.
“The ICC has been wanting to investigate here, ask for their side, ask them to give their documents. They refused. Because we believe they have no evidence to defend themselves. They say it’s politically-motivated. What is the interest of the ICC? Is the prosecutor going to run in the elections here?” Colmenares asked.
Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who filed a communication with the ICC with former Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano in 2017, welcomed the result of the Court’s preliminary investigation.
“This is another monumental step towards justice for all the families of victims of EJKs (extrajudicial killings). The long arm of the law will soon catch up with Duterte and his accomplices,” he said in a statement.
Trillanes is Duterte’s staunchest critic and promised to make him accountable for the scores of killings if he gets elected next year.