Dispatch from Crame No. 241: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s statement on the Office of the Prosecutor-International Criminal Court’s (OTP-ICC) preliminary examination on the Philippine situation


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“No crime goes unpunished.” This is the working principle in modernized democracies.

The decision of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to start a preliminary examination on the Philippine situation—preliminary to an investigation that will eventually charge this government, its leaders and all those complicit in the mass murder of thousands in its so-called drug war—is the fulfillment of a hope and a dream.

It is a wish granted that indeed no crime should go unpunished, even in countries ruled by strongmen and self-avowed dictators, where those culpable for the gravest crime of mass murder can no longer be prosecuted in their own domain because of the reign of impunity.

Malacañang must have been confident that it will never come to this. Ironically, it was also wishful thinking on their part that the OTP-ICC will simply remain blind to the situation in the Philippines, despite the outcry from local and international human rights institutions, the international media, and courageous citizens who decided to stand up for the poor and powerless who are the primary victims of the Duterte regime’s campaign of mass murder and social cleansing.

Malacañang’s initial response hopes to spin the announcement of the OTP-ICC as nothing that would alarm the President and all those complicit in the mass murders. This is again false bravado. If there is anyone who knows that the OTP-ICC does not initiate criminal proceedings without serious deliberation and factual basis, it is the Malacañang spokesperson himself, a self-proclaimed international human rights lawyer who turned stooge to the most prolific mass murderer in the world today.

Malacañang will continue to spin this in the days to come, even as the process of the preliminary examination unfolds. And like what Duterte did with the DDS in Davao during the 2009 CHR investigation, they might actually lie low for a while and order a temporary stop to the extra-judicial killings by the PNP death squads, in the hope to assuage the ICC Prosecutor that it is doing something to stop the killings, or even to fool her that there is actually no government-sponsored and funded program of social mass extermination.

But even these cosmetic options will not free Duterte from the reality that sooner or later, he might actually be charged with the mass murder of civilians as a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute.

This might be the beginning of his and his regime’s international isolation as a rogue criminal regime, its leaders and officials complicit in the murders hunted down and open to arrest in all signatory countries of the Rome Statute where they happen to set foot on.

This will mean diplomatic isolation and a breakdown of the conduct of our foreign relations, except with condoning countries like China who wish to extract the maximum capitulation from the Duterte government in so far as our territories and EEZ resources are concerned.

More than that, this might actually be the beginning of the end for the Duterte kakistocracy.

I fully support the announcement of the OTP-ICC to start the proceedings on the Duterte regime in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Rome Statute.

I am confident that in the process of examination, it will become clear that any hope of domestic accountability and prosecution for the thousands of killings is non-existent, and that only the mechanism of the ICC under the Rome Statute can exact justice on Duterte and all the men and women complicit in the greatest reign of homicidal terror this nation has ever witnessed.

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