Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima welcomes the International Criminal Court’s (ICC’s) granting of limited immunity to former Davao City cop Arturo Lascañas, a self-confessed hitman of Davao Death Squad (DDS).
De Lima, a former Justice Secretary, quips the Duterte administration, saying that it could learn a thing or two from the ICC in handling investigations related to human rights abuses perpetrated by state agents and operatives.
“The ICC shows us how it’s done! Being independent and, thus, immune from political abuse and bullying from Duterte, the ICC is able to proceed with the investigation into the Philippine drug war and killings in a sober and methodical manner, focusing only on facts and evidence while drowning out the unnecessary noise,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1175.
Reportedly, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the ICC has struck a limited immunity deal with Lascañas in the investigation of the Philippine drug war and killings in Mr. Duterte’s home city. Lascañas signed on November 11, 2020 the ICC’s Third Agreement on Limited Use of Information, or six months before former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested authorization to open the investigation.
It will be recalled that the ICC’s pre-trial chamber announced last Sept. 15 that it had authorized the opening of a probe into the bloody drug war, as well as killings in Davao City by the alleged DDS when Duterte was the mayor and vice mayor from 2011 to 2016.
In the document, the OTP said it would not use as evidence against Lascañas his confession that he carried out the killings and cover-ups ordered by Duterte himself or through instructions coursed through the latter’s trusted men.
De Lima stressed, how the ICC, unlike Duterte, does not engage in trial by publicity, or preempt or prejudge any investigation.
“Slowly but surely, they evaluate the evidence as they receive them and act upon them without need for public spectacle. And sure enough, they are proceeding with their case in spite of the vitriolic public protestations from Mr. Duterte,” she said.
“Ngayon, napabalita na binigyan nila ng limited immunity ang dating hitman ni Duterte na si Arturo Lascañas na dati nang tumestigo sa Senado ukol sa malawakang pagpatay na naganap sa Davao noong panahon ng panunungkulan ni Duterte bilang Mayor doon.
“Ibig sabihin, binibigyan nila ng kalayaan si Lascañas na magsabi lang ng totoo at hindi matakot na makakasuhan siya bunga ng magiging testimoniya niya,” she added.
Since Lascañas is under the protection of the ICC, De Lima said she hopes that he will be able to testify fully without receiving any threats from Duterte’s camp.
“Hindi malayong lalo pang matatakot si Duterte sa kaso niya sa ICC sapagkat alam niya ang katotohanan ng mga sinasabi o ibubunyag ni Lascañas,” she said.
“Kaya gagawin niya ang lahat ng kanyang makakaya, hindi lang para siraan si Lascañas, kundi para maluklok sa puwesto ang kaniyang anak at patuloy nilang magamit ang institusyon ng Office of the President para humarang at maging sagabal sa imbestigasyon o, sa kalaunan, tuluyang patakasin siya sa kaniyang mga kasalanan,” she added.
Ultimately, De Lima warned Duterte that his days are numbered and that justice will catch up on him for all the killings he ordered and tolerated.
“Mailap man ang hustisya sa ilalim ng iyong rehimen, iba ang usapan sa ICC na malayo sa iyong impluwensya at pananakot. Kaya anumang drama at negosasyon ang nagaganap sa pagitan ng iyong pamilya, mga Marcoses, at pati na si Gloria Arroyo, makakamit din ng bayan, lalo ng mga biktima ng EJKs, ang katarungan,” said De Lima.
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.
She also submitted a communication to the Office of the Special Prosecutor of ICC last October 2017. (30)