Lawyers' group: PH drug war probe 'cherry-picked,' focused on low-ranking cops


Posted at Mar 16 2023 01:26 PM | Updated as of Mar 16 2023 01:34 PM

Dead bodies turn up on the streets in different parts of Metro Manila on Feb. 8, 2017. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News/File
Dead bodies turn up on the streets in different parts of Metro Manila on Feb. 8, 2017. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — A lawyers' group on Thursday opposed the Philippine government's appeal before the International Criminal Court to suspend its investigation into former President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war.

According to lawyer Kristina Conti, secretary-general of National Union of Peoples' Lawyers-National Capital Region, the cases included in Manila's domestic investigation into the bloody crackdown are "cherry-picked" and has so far prosecuted low-ranking policemen.

"These cases have been cherry-picked. They are not characteristic or an embodiment of what happened in the entire Philippines," she told ANC's "Rundown".

Conti said the Philippines' domestic proceedings only looked at the individual culpability of low-ranking police officers and not at the overall perspective of the drug war.

"From the very beginning of his administration, President Duterte promised us deaths and killings and blood," she said. "So, it is this President who may very well be pointed out to be the root cause or the root source of all these orders to kill, kill, kill."

In its 51-page appeal filed with the ICC Appeals Chamber on Tuesday, the Philippine government requested the international tribunal to reverse its decision and to determine that the office of ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan is not allowed to resume its probe into the Philippines.

Manila again argued the ICC had no jurisdiction over the country.

The Philippine government gave 4 grounds in its appeal. Among them is its claim that the Pre-Trial Chamber had no jurisdiction over the Philippines, citing its withdrawal from the Rome Statute.

It also alleged the chamber erred in law by reversing the prosecution's burden of proof and the Pre-Trial Chamber's failure to consider all article 17 factors.

Under Article 17 of the Rome Statute, the ICC can rule that a case is inadmissible in its tribunal if the case is being investigated by a State, which has jurisdiction over it.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said the Philippine government had openly recognized its responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes related to the drug war.

Over 7,000 people died in Duterte's anti-drug campaign, according to official figures. But rights groups estimate the figure could reach as high as 30,000.

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