Opposition senators laud ICC’s probe on deaths committed under Duterte’s war on drugs

Published June 15, 2021, 5:42 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Opposition senators on Tuesday welcomed the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) move to seek full investigation into the killings being linked to the Duterte administration’s drug war as a possible case of “crime against humanity of murder” under the Rome Statute.

“The day of reckoning is coming. The ICC is an important part in the global fight against impunity and Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s tireless pursuit to exact the truth behind this administration’s bloody war on drugs is highly laudable,” Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said this application to open a full investigation is one step closer toward attaining justice for drug war victims including Kian Delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz, Reynaldo de Guzman, as well as other victims who were considered “collateral damage” of the government’s war on drugs.

“In line with our commitments under international law, I am calling on the entire state bureaucracy, especially our law enforcement units, to cooperate during the investigation stage. The whole world is watching,” Hontiveros stressed.

Sen. Leila de Lima, a vocal critic of the Duterte administration, also hailed the ICC prosecutor’s move saying “the days of Rodrigo Roa Duterte are coming to an end.”

“The only question now is whether his own death will come as a boon and save him from the trial and judgment of the ICC for his crimes against humanity,” de Lima said.

“But that would be unfair to the thousands of poor Filipinos Duterte had ordered to be murdered in his fake drug war. It would be an injustice for him to escape his coming trial and conviction by the grace of an early departure from this world,” she said.

“No, that should not happen. Let us all pray for Duterte’s life and good health, so that he may go through the ICC trial that would follow his arrest after the start of the investigation of the Office of the Prosecutor,” she pointed out.

But in a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said Duterte will never cooperate with the ICC if it pushes through with its probe.

Roque said the request of the ICC for judicial authorization to conduct an inquiry is legally flawed because it no longer has jurisdiction over the Philippines since the country unilaterally withdrew from the international court in 2019.

“I believe the decision to move forward into a formal investigation stage is legally erroneous and politically motivated,” Roque said.

“We will not cooperate because we are no longer member of the ICC,” the Palace official said.