Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima welcomes the International Criminal Court (ICC) decision ordering the start of the probe on the crimes against humanity cases filed against Duterte in connection with his murderous War on Drugs.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, made the statement after the ICC approved last Sept. 15 a formal probe into Duterte’s signature anti-narcotics campaign, including the extrajudicial killings in Davao linked to the Davao Death Squad (DDS).
“I welcome with a very glad heart the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court ordering the start of the preliminary investigation on Rodrigo Duterte (aka ‘Digong’ and ‘Meyor’) and Ronaldo Dela Rosa (aka ‘Bato’), and other security law enforcement officials of the Philippine government, particularly those also involved with the Davao Death Squad from November 2011 to July 2016, for the killings committed in Duterte’s drug war,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1150.
“I intentionally mention the aliases of Duterte and now Senator Dela Rosa to emphasize the point that soon, like any ordinary criminal or fugitive from justice, they will also be known by their aliases, apart from their given names, like in any ‘Wanted’ poster proclaiming that they are being hunted by the ICC in The Hague to answer for mass murder as a crime against humanity,” she added.
In a statement, the Hague-based tribunal said there was “reasonable basis” to proceed with the probe noting that “specific legal element of the crime against humanity of murder” has been met in the crackdown that left thousands dead.
The decision was signed by Presiding Judge Péter Kovács, Judge Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou, and Judge María del Socorro Flores Liera.
Duterte may have pulled Manila out of the Hague-based court in 2019 after it launched a preliminary probe, but the ICC said it has jurisdiction over crimes committed while the Philippines was still a member.
De Lima said she believes that it is only a matter of time before international arrest warrants are issued against Duterte and Dela Rosa by the ICC in light of the refusal of the present administration to cooperate and participate in the investigation.
“Duterte reminds me of the dictator who refuses to acknowledge the existence of an international community of nations that chose to live within contemporary standards of human rights and civilized polity,” she said.
“He denies the existence of this community outside of his own canine notion of territoriality that where he is dictator, no law can apply to him and no harm can fall upon him. He actually believes that he is above the law, even international law, hence, his denial of any form of accountability for his criminal actions,” she added.
De Lima further said that the ICC decision to specifically investigate him for crimes against humanity is “the proverbial hangman’s noose closing around the neck of the sociopathic serial killer,” adding that “Duterte is now alone.”
Former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda filed the request to investigate just before her retirement in June, purporting that “state actors, primarily members of the Philippine security forces, killed thousands of suspected drug users and other civilians during official law enforcement operations.”
De Lima was the very first to sound the alarm on EJKs being committed in the guise of Duterte’s drug war, via her privilege speeches and Proposed Senate Resolution (PSR) No. 9, directing the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights to investigate the rampant extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected criminals, which she filed last July 2016.
It may be recalled that De Lima also submitted a communication to the Office of the Special Prosecutor of ICC last October 2017. (30)