De Lima dismayed over ICC suspension of PH drug war probe, hopes for immediate resumption


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima expressed dismay over the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor to suspend investigative activities into the Philippines’ murderous drug war and killings, following a request of the Duterte government.

De Lima, the staunchest critic of Duterte’s “War on Drugs”, said she hopes that the ICC Prosecutor “does not fall into the trap of letting those guilty of the crimes dispose of the evidence under the guise of being allowed to investigate their own crimes.”

In her Dispatch from Crame No. 1180, she said that “[t]he ICC Prosecutor must realize that no amount of investigation by the current government authorities will result in the meaningful and genuine prosecution of those guilty of the crimes against humanity, simply because it is these same government authorities who allowed these crimes to continue unabated by not prosecuting the killers.

“They are also not expected to because they directly receive their orders from the very architect of the mass murders, President Duterte,” she added.

The Philippine government, in early November, through Ambassador to the Netherlands J. Eduardo Malaya, requested the Office of the Prosecutor (OP) to defer to the country’s own investigation of Duterte’s flagship campaign.

Recently, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan notified that the ICC will “temporarily suspend” the investigation to assess the Philippines’ request to defer to the Philippine government in conducting the probe. He, however, clarified that they will “continue its analysis of information already in its possession as well as of any new information it may receive from third parties.”

De Lima maintained that the reasons advanced by the Duterte administration for the suspension of the investigation are all meant to further delay the ICC proceedings, if not for the ICC to entirely defer investigation and prosecution to the Duterte government.

“The ICC Prosecutor must know that none of the purported domestic investigations, including the DOJ’s review process conducted under the aegis of A.O. 35, targets or involves Duterte himself, the top suspect or the person most responsible for these crimes,” she said.

If anything, De Lima said she takes comfort in the fact that the suspension of the ICC Prosecutor’s investigative activities is merely temporary in order to “assess the scope and effect of the Deferral Request” of the Duterte government, which, hopefully, will not take much time.

For now, De Lima said that we, Filipinos, must “repose our trust in the Office of the ICC Prosecutor and the ICC institutional mechanisms to achieve true and complete justice for the victims of Duterte’s crimes against humanity.”

Former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda filed the request to investigate Duterte’s drug war killings just before her retirement in June 2021, alleging that “state actors, primarily members of the Philippine security forces, killed thousands of suspected drug users and other civilians during official law enforcement operations.”

Back in 2016, Senator De Lima delivered two privilege speeches calling an end to the then alarmingly escalating spate of extrajudicial killings, and filed Proposed Senate Resolution (PSR) No. 9 in July of 2016 directing the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which she, at the time, headed, to investigate the rampant extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected drug offenders under Duterte’s War on Drugs.

De Lima also submitted a communication to the Office of the Special Prosecutor of the ICC last October 2017. (30)

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