Duterte faces fresh case at ICC over drug war

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 28 2018 10:56 AM | Updated as of Aug 28 2018 01:34 PM

Rights activists and relatives of 7 people killed under the drug war appear at a press conference after filing a case against President Rodrigo Duterte at the International Criminal Court.

MANILA - (UPDATED) President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday faced another complaint before the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity in connection with killings linked to his anti-drug drive.

Duterte committed murder over "the extra-judicial killings of thousands of Filipinos" and inhumane acts for "causing great suffering to the victims and their families," according to the complaint lodged by a rights group and families of several drug war fatalities. 

The alleged mass murders and rights violations under Duterte "are so grievous and so heinous that is of sufficient gravity to justify further action of the Court," according to the complainants, represented by the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers.

Police say they have killed 4,200 drug suspects in self-defense since Duterte took office. Rights groups claim police and vigilantes have killed some 12,000 people.

The Hague-based ICC earlier this year launched a preliminary investigation into a separate complaint against Duterte for allegedly using killings to control crime, a tactic he also supposedly used during his 22 years as mayor of Davao City. 

This prompted Duterte in May to withdraw the Philippines from the Rome Statue, which created the ICC. 

The Philippines remains a party to the statute as the withdrawal will only take effect a year after it was filed, said the complainants. 

The ICC, a course of last resort, may take jurisdiction over Duterte because the Philippine justice system is "unable to prosecute him" as presidents are expressly immune from suit, the complaint argued. 

"It is our hope, that with the Court taking jurisdiction of herein Complaint, it may force President Duterte to reexamine, if not abandon, his distorted notion of mass murder to solve the country‘s drug and crime problem. The intervention of the ICC will save thousands more from slaughter," the complainants said. 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hold oral arguments on a petition challenging Manila's ICC pullout. 

SPARING OTHERS FROM SUFFERING 

Tuesday's ICC complaint was lodged by relatives of 7 drug war fatalities and the group Rise Up for Life and for Rights. 

"Hindi po kami magkakakilala rito para sa kaalaman ninyo. Isa lang ho ang alam ko, pinatay ang aming mga mahal sa buhay," complainant Dennise David told reporters. 

"Ayaw po naming maramdaman ng ibang pamilya ang nararamdaman namin. Dapat po mahinto na ang mga pamamaslang at mapanagot ang dahilan ng mga patayan," he added. 

(We do not know each other, for your information. I only know one thing, our loved ones were killed. We do not want other families to feel what we felt. The killings should be stopped and those behind it should be held accountable.) 

David's son JJ and 2 companions were killed last year after they allegedly fought anti-narcotics cops in Binondo, Manila. They had no drug record and was probably accosted along Jones Bridge because JJ was driving a motorcycle even though he only had a student driver's permit, his father said.

The arrival of the 3 men's bodies at the hospital was featured in a special Reuters report that tracked alleged procedural lapses by police during its investigation. 

PALACE SHRUGS OFF COMPLAINT 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque shrugged off the complaint, saying it was merely a communication that had not been acted upon by the ICC. 

"Anyone can file a communication. Even the Pope has a communication filed against him so that does not mean anything," he told reporters. 

The first ICC complaint against Duterte was filed by lawyer Jude Sabio, who counseled Edgar Matobato, a retired Davao policeman who accused the President of ordering assassinations when he was still mayor. 

Magdalo party-mates Rep. Gary Alejano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV filed a supplemental complaint to Sabio's case.