Senator Leila M. de Lima has welcomed the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) preliminary examination report into the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs which could help ensure justice for all the victims of extrajudicial killings and their families.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, said she considers ICC’s report on its preliminary examination into Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs – which has unjustly killed an estimate of 27,000 individuals – as “timely, significant, and highly notable news.”
“With this report, a status report actually, our collective cause for justice and human rights has made considerable strides and ends the year for all the victims and their families on a positive, hopeful note,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 667.
“In like measure, we can take an optimistic view as the ICC concludes its examination in 2020,” she added.
In her 77-page report that included the Philippine case, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she had looked into the complaints that Mr. Duterte and other State officials “actively promoted and encouraged the killing of suspected or purported drug users and/or dealers.”
According to her, her office intends to conclude its initial review of Duterte’s drug war by 2020 to determine the possible necessity to conduct a full-blown investigation into the Philippines’ anti-narcotics trade campaign.
Palace Spokesman Salvador Panelo claimed ICC’s insistence to probe the government’s drug was an “utter disrespect” to the Philippines, arguing that the alleged killings do not fall into the definition of crimes against humanity under the ICC’s mandate.
Note that the Philippines became a party to the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, on Nov. 1, 2011. Duterte, however, submitted a formal notice of revocation of its membership from the ICC on March 17, 2019.
Despite the withdrawal from ICC, its preliminary examination of Duterte’s drug war pushed through in February 2018, noting that it has jurisdiction over the possible crimes perpetrated during the period the Philippines was a state party to the Rome Statute.
The lady Senator from Bicol pointed out that the ICC can square with the enormity of serious information, evidence and realities on the ground, and restore the sovereign standing of justice wanting now in the country under this regime.
“The dark clouds overhanging us are now wearing thin, so as those who abuse their power and mandate. They cannot simply twist the fabric of justice and expect it not to turn back at them,” she said.
“May katapusan ang lahat, at sa huli, katarungan ang mananaig,” she added.
As the most vocal critic of the injustices happening in the country, De Lima has filed several resolutions calling for a Senate investigation into the rampant cases of extrajudicial killings and summary executions under the Duterte regime. (30)