Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima believes that the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) report showing that victims ‘overwhelmingly support’ an investigation of the crimes committed under President Duterte’s drug war brings the victims and their families a step closer to achieving the justice that they deserve.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, stressed that such report is another glaring reminder to Duterte that the ICC process is real and he cannot anymore escape from accountability.
“It is becoming more real for him as certain procedures are accomplished towards the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber to order an investigation on the Philippines,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1136.
“This also brings hope to all the families of the victims of Duterte’s drug war, that the ICC is working and that it is their best hope for justice,” she added.
Last August 27, the Victims Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS) of the ICC submitted its victim consultation report on the Philippine case to the ICC Registry, this being the fifth victim consultation exercise conducted by the VPRS.
The VPRS report states that an overwhelming number of the 204 victims’ representatives (representing 1,530 victims), or 94%, want the ICC to continue with the investigation of the Philippine case.
Notably, the victims reported murder, attempted murder, imprisonment, sexual assault, enforced disappearance, and torture.
“The victim consultation of the ICC aims to get the side of the victims in the Philippine drug war, preliminary to making its decision of whether or not to order the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) to conduct a formal investigation on the Philippine case,” De Lima explained.
The lady Senator from Bicol warned that it is only a matter of time before identified perpetrators of Duterte’s drug war start cutting deals with the OTP to stand as witnesses against Duterte and the other masterminds of the drug war.
“It is, therefore, not a remote possibility that a new round of killings arising from the drug war will soon take place – that kind of killing intended to cleanse the ranks of the drug war assassins or whistle-blowers,” she said.
“This happened in Davao with the DDS after the CHR investigation, when a number of the non-police component of the DDS, mostly rebel returnees, were eliminated to prevent them from testifying against Duterte and their DDS police handlers.”
“It is not farfetched that this will happen again, especially with Duterte running out of time, both here in the Philippines and in the Hague,” she added.
Earlier, the Supreme Court ruled that Duterte cannot invoke the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute to evade the investigation by the prosecutor of the ICC of charges that he committed a crime against humanity in the killings of thousands in his brutal drug war.
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 Sabio 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. (30)