MANILA – Amid the spate of killings being linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, Senator Leila De Lima said it is now only a matter of time before the International Criminal Court intervenes in the Philippines.
Speaking before activists as well as students and faculty of Miriam College, De Lima said the ICC can monitor the country and the incidents of alleged extra-judicial killings of suspected drug personalities.
"The ICC can assume jurisdiction if they can find enough basis to do so. And when that happens, the presidential immunity does not apply," said De Lima.
De Lima issued this statement after the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said she was “deeply concerned” over the cases of drug killings in the Philippines.
Bensouda added that her office "will be closely following developments in the Philippines in the weeks to come and record any instance of incitement or resort to violence with a view to assessing whether a preliminary examination into the Philippines needs to be opened."
The ICC's prosecutor has to the power to ask the Hague-based court's judges to authorize a preliminary probe, which gathers evidence to see whether a full-blown investigation -- which could lead to an eventual trial -- should be opened.
De Lima also warned that the Duterte administration may be planning on establishing a revolutionary government which she says is worse than declaring martial law.
De Lima said the Duterte government may resort to a revolutionary government and eventually abolish key institutions such as Congress for a totalitarian rule.
"They are looking at that, it is not remote. That worries me, that is scarier, a revolutionary government and not martial law," said De Lima.
De Lima also likened Duterte to US presidential candidate Donald Trump, calling the two as "misogynistic leaders."
"God forbid there is another misogynistic leader emerging in the world," said De Lima.
De Lima lashed at Duterte and other officials for "slut shaming" her and for dragging her name in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison.
She vehemently denied allegations she was a beneficiary of millions of pesos as alleged by drug lords in the Bilibid.
She also denied being the "queen" and "mother" of drug lords.
"I have never benefited from the drug trade. I am not the queen of the drug trade in the Bilibid and I am not the mother of drug lords," said De Lima.
She also challenged the audience to speak up amid what is happening in the country.
"There is also the evil of silence. We cannot be cowed into silence," she said.
Asked by a student on what they can do, De Lima asked them to let their voices be heard but cautioned them against online hatred.
"Don't engage in that culture of hate. Use it positively," said De Lima.
One student also asked De Lima where she draws her strength as she faces the challenges in her professional and personal life. De Lima replied that aside from prayers, her children serve as her inspiration.
"My marriage is annulled but I have two kids, one of them is Israel, who is 33 and is a special child, he is very handsome," said De Lima.
She also told the students about her second son, 28-year-old Vincent Joshua, a San Beda law student who has two kids, one of whom is also a special child.
Miriam College is the fourth school De Lima went to in a series of fora organized by women leaders.