Why Duterte, top PH officials were accused before international court

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 24 2017 06:56 PM | Updated as of Apr 24 2017 07:41 PM

MANILA- The lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato on Monday filed a complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte and his senior officials before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, accusing them of crimes against humanity amid the country’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs.

In a 77-page complaint, lawyer Jude Sabio alleged that Duterte "repeatedly, unchangingly and continuously" committed crimes against humanity, and that killing drug suspects and other criminals has become "best practice" under his regime.

The complaint is anchored on the testimonies of confessed hitmen Matobato and retired police officer Arturo Lascañas, as well as reports on the killings by media organizations and human rights advocates. 

Charged with Duterte were 11 other “key” officials included for having criminal liability.

Below is a rundown of why Duterte and his men were charged: 

THE PRESIDENT: RODRIGO DUTERTE

The complaint alleged that Duterte should be investigated, tried and convicted before the ICC for thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings that happened during his time as mayor of Davao City and now as President of the Philippines.

“Since he is also aware and knows about the extra-judicial executions in his war on drugs, he is sought to be criminally liable,” the complaint read.

Accusations against Duterte are anchored on the principle of “command responsibility,” in that he had failed to stop the police and the Department of Interior and Local Government from allegedly committing mass murders.

The complaint also cited Duterte’s pronouncements of “serious threats” to kill, and a specific incident where he boasted of roaming the streets at night to look for a fight with a suspected criminal so he could kill.

THE JUSTICE CHIEF: VITALIANO AGUIRRE II

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II was charged as an accomplice due to his statements that, according to the complaint, have been “contributing to the commission of the crime in any way with the conscious aim of furthering the criminal purpose or activity of the death squads.” 

The complaint also revived the case of the Laud quarry in Davao City, where bodies of suspected victims of the Davao Death Squad were dumped. Aguirre was the lawyer of the quarry owner, retired police officer Bienvenido Laud, when the case was won.

THE TOP COP: RONALD DELA ROSA

Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa was tagged by both Matobato and Lascañas for allegedly participating in certain crimes committed by the Davao Death Squad when Duterte was still mayor. 

The complaint indicted Dela Rosa for allegedly failing to order a halt to the killings and for the lack of investigation of slay cases. He was also included for his support to the police-led Oplan Tokhang (knock-and-plead) operations, where police visit houses to ask suspected drug users and peddlers to surrender.

THE SPEAKER: PANTALEON ALVAREZ

The complaint indicted the President’s top ally in the House of Representatives, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, due to his public statements, which Sabio claimed aimed to “clearly incite violence.” 

Some of the statements attributed to Alvarez were: 

  • “Pag may nakita ka na crime, nahuli mo in the act of committing a crime ano gagawin mo? Patayin mo na lang yan.” 
  • “Try to feel yung magulang ng mga biktima. It’s easy for us to say due process, huwag mo patayin. It’s easy for us to say dahil hindi sa atin nangyari.” 

Alvarez is leading the Duterte administration’s efforts to pass the death penalty bill into law.

THE OUSTED FRIEND: ISMAEL SUENO

Despite his dismissal from the Duterte Cabinet, former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno was still included in the complaint for allegedly allowing barangay officials and policemen to carry out “Oplan Tokhang” operations, which led to the “discrimination and vilification of identified drug dealers, users.”

THE OVERSEER: SUPERINTENDENT EDILBERTO LEONARDO

Superintendent Edilberto Leonardo, the Manila Police District Station Commander, is accused of being criminally liable for allegedly helping design and operate the reward system for the war on drugs at a national level.

THE BODYGUARD: SPO4 SANSON “SONNY” BUENAVENTURA

For over two decades, SPO4 Sanson “Sonny” Buenaventura has secured the safety of President Duterte, providing him protection back to his time as Davao City Mayor. He was indicted before the ICC for his alleged role in facilitating the transfer of reward money to hitmen as part of the drug war implementation. He is also accused of having direct involvement in the Davao Death Squad.

THE FEMALE CHIEF: POLICE SUPT. ROYINA GARMA 

The first female chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 7 was not spared. Superintendent Royina Garma was accused of committing violations in the implementation of Oplan Tokhang, and for her alleged failure to stop killings in her area of responsibility.

THE INVESTIGATOR: NBI DIRECTOR DANTE GIERRAN

The country’s top investigator, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran, was accused of failing to investigate “widespread, systematic killings” under the Duterte administration, thus “facilitating continued commission of crime.”

THE DEFENDER: SOLICITOR GENERAL JOSE CALIDA

Manila’s principal law officer was held criminally liable by the complaint for promising to defend cops accused of summary killings if the were committed as part of the war on drugs. The complaint alleged that Calida’s statements tended to lead to the commission of more murders.

THE SENATE JUSTICE COMMITTEE CHAIR: SENATOR RICHARD GORDON

Gordon, chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, was accused of criminal liability for his report concluding that the drug-related killings seen in Duterte's war on drugs are not state-sponsored. 

The complaint added that Gordon’s public pronouncements led to a “white wash and abrupt termination” of senate investigation on extrajudicial killings.

THE RUNNING MATE: SENATOR ALAN PETER CAYETANO

President Duterte’s former running mate, defeated Vice Presidential candidate Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, was charged for “aiding and abetting” killings through public speeches and pronouncements. 

The complaint alleged that, despite the increasing number of deaths due to the war on drugs, Cayetano has been denying the existence of extrajudicial killings and has even been encouraging the bloody anti-narcotics campaign.

Sabio added that Cayetano “schemed” for the removal of Senator Leila de Lima as chair of the Senate justice committee just as she began probing the killings. De Lima, one of the President's sharpest critics, was arrested in February, ironically on drug charges. She has repeatedly dismissed charges against her as "political persecution."