Dispatch from Crame No.485: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s statement on Duterte’s evasion of justice before the ICC


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Instead of facing the music, Duterte is running scared. Behind the delusional bravado of a tyrant is a man who hides behind the legal acrobatics of his men, rather than face justice before the International Criminal Court – which, unlike the brand of justice faced by victims of Tokhang and EJKs, at least accords him the opportunity to defend himself.

His men, particularly his DOJ Secretary and Spokesperson, basically argue four (4) things, all of which betray that Duterte is desperately grasping at any excuse to escape the jurisdiction of the ICC and the justice it is bound to serve upon him for his crimes against humanity.

First, Sec. Guevarra argues that the ICC cannot exercise jurisdiction because our justice system is working. He uses the case of Kian delos Santos as an example.

That Sec. Guevarra can only point to one prosecution out of thousands of deaths reveals the fallacy of his argument. It says a lot about this government that the one case that was prosecuted successfully was the one where the eyewitnesses chose to remain in the protective custody of Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who, for her efforts, was charged with kidnapping, among other absurd charges that were meant to intimidate her and the witnesses. Kian’s case is obviously, and by Guevarra’s own demonstration, the exception rather than the rule.

Second, Sec. Gueverra claims that the letter withdrawing from the ICC – signed by the person under investigation himself! – was “as a matter of courtesy” letting the ICC know that the Philippines was never under its jurisdiction from the very start because the Rome Statute was never published in the Official Gazette.

This argument is Duterte’s favorite false legal loophole in claiming that the Philippines never became a state party to the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the ICC. It is a false argument because Philippine laws do not require treaties to be published first before the Philippines becomes a state party to them.

Third, Sec. Guevarra says that the thousands murdered by PNP death squads and state-sponsored vigilantes in Duterte’s drug war do not constitute genocide or crimes against humanity.

Sec. Guevarra knows or ought to know that crimes against humanity include a systematic attack directed against any civilian population committed through, among others, murder and extermination. Duterte already admitted to ordering such criminal acts against civilians on mere suspicion of involvement in illegal drugs. On the day after Kian’s murder, he gloated about the “one-time, big-time” operations that killed 30 civilians in a single day, saying 30 dead in a day is good for the country.

Finally, Panelo also claims that the ICC would be violating its own laws if it proceeds with a probe without a preliminary investigation prior to the withdrawal. Yet he admits that there is already a preliminary examination that would decide whether the ICC has jurisdiction or not.

Precisely, if the ICC decides that it has jurisdiction, then and only then can and should the formal preliminary investigation proceed. It doesn’t lose its jurisdiction over a matter already taken cognizance of by the ICC before the withdrawal takes effect.

That Duterte and his men attempt to argue otherwise reveals even more his true reason for withdrawing from the ICC (if there were still any doubt as to what it is) – the purely self-serving attempt of a guilty man to flee from justice. He may not (yet) be fleeing physically, but he is surely fleeing by abusing his powers as President and usurping the powers of two other branches of government.

Mr. President, ikaw na ngayon ang nanlalaban sa harap ng mga awtoridad ng hustisya. Gusto mo lamang isahan ang taumbayan at ang mundo. Gagamitin mo pa ang kapangyarihan ng opisina mo para manlaban sa katotohanan at hustisya. Gagawa-gawa ka ng kasalanan, tapos ngayong panahon na para managot ay tatakbo ka lang pala? Mahiya ka naman at ang mga tauhan mo.

Tuparin mo na ang pinagmamalaki mong pangako na papanagutan mo lahat ng pagpatay na inutos mo. Huwag ka nang manlaban. Huwag ka nang tumakbo. Harapin mo na lang ang hustisya.

After all the boasting about your willingness to sacrifice yourself supposedly to save the country by killing drug suspects, be man enough to face justice for the murders committed with your blessing and/or upon your open inducement. ###

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