Beyond denying. Such is the exact quotation of remarks uttered by President Rodrigo Duterte on August 6, 2016.
Duterte’s remarkable utterance has since reverberated around the world via international media. And among other typically braggadocious self-implicating, veiled admission rants of the man, “I don’t care about human rights” is now institutionally enrolled with the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor (ICC).
That quotation is damningly inescapable. There is no sane leader of any country in this contemporary civilized world who has been as brazenly boastful, needlessly. It is therefore easy enough to entertain doubts about the “mental state” of President Duterte, whose professed disdain for “human rights” he himself has established beyond doubt and debate.
As we now all know, last Monday April 24, a complaint was filed with and received by the ICC. It was personally filed by one Attorney Jude Josue L. Sabio, on his own and on behalf of self-confessed hit-man Edgar Matobato, eye-witness and participant to numerous murders committed by and upon orders of then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Matobato was a foot soldier of the notorious “Davao Death Squad.” The heading of the complaint reads: “THE SITUATION OF MASS MURDER IN THE PHILIPPINES / RODRIGO DUTERTE: THE MASS MURDERER”
The courageous counsellor from Cagayan de Oro continues: “….it is humbly requested that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court conduct an analysis of the situation of mass murder in the Philippines as well as the criminal liability…. of then Mayor and now President Duterte and his senior government officials.”
Those who have publicly denounced the complaint’s credibility--the Duterte crowd, but of course--are highly likely not to have read and understood the entire 77-page document. I speak of the likes of Senator Ping Lacson and Solicitor General Jose Calida whose reactions were in the least knee-jerk careless, all but confirming suspicions of stupidity. Additionally, Calida’s threat to file for disbarment against Atty. Sabio for bringing the case to the ICC is sheer idiocy!
Folks, if you have not yet done so (98 %, perhaps!), I encourage you to find the time to read through the document. It is available at: https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/24/1693506/full-text-criminal-complaint-filed-vs-duterte-international-criminal
It would not be fair to critique the output of Atty. Sabio by the standards of great and outstanding literature. Nonetheless, not being a lawyer, I found Atty. Sabio’s legal handiwork easy to comprehend, factual, unequivocal, straightforward, lucid, factual, copiously well-documented and compelling. And indeed extremely useful, for finally haling Mr. Duterte to court. I found nary a morsel by which to deny the nobility and sincerity in Counsellor Sabio’s plea for an “end of this dark, obscene, murderous and evil era in the Philippines,” as he pleads in his cover letter. Sabio’s is a moral undertaking. He deserves high commendation for his courageous expression of rectitude and concern. It is singular patriotism!
Now, as to the attitude of dispatch with which the ICC’s investigation and disposition of the Duterte case can commence, there are skeptics who doubt the speed when the ICC Prosecutor can react and formally swing into judicial action. I believe it will be sooner than what is assumed to be the usual much longer! My assessment indicates that because the matter has already been in effective gestation within the pertinent Chambers of the ICC, therefore, it will be sooner.
Long before Atty. Sabio’s visit to the Hague, the ICC Prosecutor herself had publicly manifested interest over the reputed criminal behavior of our minority-elected President. Madame Fatou Besouda, the lady lawyer from Gambia who sits as the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as early as October 13, 2016, already issued an official statement, motu proprio (by her own accord), expressing her “deep concern,” that “public statements of high officials…seem to condone such killings,” and forthwith, a stern warning to President Duterte.
Here is that official statement: https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=161013-otp-stat-php .
Even earlier, August 3, 2016, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), through its executive Director Yury Fedotov, has spoken saying that they remain “greatly concerned by reports of extrajudicial killing of suspected drug dealers and users…” in the Philippines. You see Duterte’s dirty renown has obviously preceded him rather notoriously.
In fact, the ICC and the UNODC official pronouncements are earlier manifestations of burgeoning international concern confirmed by investigations and reports thereon. These are the ones conducted by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the US State Department Human Rights annual assessment Report, the European Union and our own Fr. Amado Picardal’s report and the Philippine Commission on Human Rights 2009 investigation. All the foregoing are further bolstered by graphic reportage (some winners of prestigious journalism awards) of international media, with the New York Times taking the lead. Duterte’s evil notoriety has been chiseled in stone!
It is certainly not an idle exaggeration, therefore, to surmise that no other case brought before the International Criminal Court has been attended by such massive incriminating preemption via world-wide publicity, thus reasonably engendering concomitant international public interest. Duterte having become a “concern to the international community,” it was simply inevitable that his case had been in the ICC Prosecutor’s crosshair long before the formal filing by Atty. Sabio.
It would be sobering for the zealots of the Duterte crowd as well as for its supporting sidewalk skeptics if they were to realize that the ICC Prosecutor can initiate investigations on her own, (motu proprio, again!) based on received credible information. Logically, Madame Besouda would not have expressed her official concern and warning in October, if she did not then believe that early reports on Duterte were credible. The case filed by Atty. Sabio confirms, and hands over to the International Criminal Court, a case in possession of credibility.
The tightening of the noose is now evident.
The anxious public may not have to wait for years. However, what is still uncertain, at this stage, is who will preside sooner over Rodrigo Duterte’s fate. Madame Besouda, the people’s anger, or the hand of God!
(A disclosure: I am very sensitive to affronts by anyone against “human rights,” whether viewed as an institution, as a moral precept or a policy of governance. I was brought up with Christian schooling, respecting all creeds. And an incumbent Commissioner of Human Rights, Ms. Karen Gomez Dumpit, happens to be my daughter.)
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.