De Lima on ICC probe on gov’ts drug war: Duterte’s days are coming to an end


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has welcomed the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) full-blown investigation of the thousands of killings under the Duterte regime’s murderous war on drugs.

De Lima made the statement after outgoing ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced last June 14 that she has sought permission for a full-blown investigation to follow her office’s preliminary examination into the allegations against Duterte and others involved in the current administration’s drug war.

“I most gladly welcome the decision of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the Honorable Fatou Bensouda, to proceed with the investigation of the drug war killings as a possible case of the ‘Crime Against Humanity of Murder’ under the Rome Statute,” De Lima said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1075.

De Lima added that the recent development means that Duterte’s days are “coming to an end,” stressing that the only question now is whether Duterte’s own death will come as a boon and save him from the trial and judgment of the ICC for his crimes against humanity.

“He might actually be entertaining that notion now, better to die first than to suffer the humiliation of being dragged in chains to The Hague as one of the few individuals in history to be tried as hostis humani generis, an enemy of mankind,” she stated.

Bensouda said last June 14 that a preliminary examination found reason to believe crimes against humanity had been committed during Duterte’s crackdown on drugs between July 1, 2016, and March 16, 2019.

Notably, the dates cover the period between when Duterte launched his anti-narcotics campaign shortly after winning a six-year presidential term and when he withdrew the Philippines from the court.

Aside from applying for an authorization with the Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) to open an investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity committed under Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor also seeks to probe into the killings in Davao City from 2011 to 2016.

In March 2018, Duterte ordered the withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC, and while the withdrawal was formalized on March 17, 2019, Bensouda proceeded with her probe.

De Lima said Filipinos should “pray for Duterte’s long life and good health” because his death would be unfair to the thousands of poor Filipinos killed under his orders.

“It would be an injustice for him to escape his coming trial and conviction by the grace of an early departure from this world. No, that should not happen. Let us all pray for Duterte’s long 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 said.

“All power, no matter how absolute, is always fleeting. Only justice is permanent. Let it be done though the heavens fall,” she added.

In a separate statement, De Lima reminded that no one can play with the law of humanity and use his own set of rules.

Kahit pa ang pangalan mo ay Duterte. So the International Criminal Court is now at your door, behind it are thousands of victims of your bloodbath,” she said.

Notably, De Lima filed a communication to the ICC in October 2017 to complement the allegations made by the late Atty. Jude Sabio, and former lawmakers Antonio Trillanes and Gary Alejano against Duterte.

The communication included statements of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato and retired police officer Arturo Lascañas, that they killed people in Davao City upon the orders of then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Trillanes and Alejano, meanwhile, said thousands more were killed in the war on drugs since Duterte became president in 2016.

It may also be recalled that De Lima is the first Philippine official to investigate extrajudicial killings attributed to Duterte, the first being in 2009 where she exposed Duterte’s involvement in the vigilante group known as the “Davao Death Squad” during her term as Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

De Lima later introduced Senate Resolution No. 9 on July 13, 2016 calling for an investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings in the government’s all-out war on drugs and delivered a privilege speech about the matter last Aug. 2, 2016, which earned the ire of Duterte resulting to the Senator’s ongoing political persecution.  (30)

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