MANILA, Philippines – Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now House senior deputy speaker, led a group of 19 lawmakers in filing a resolution urging the lower chamber to support former president Rodrigo Duterte, who faces a potential International Criminal Court (ICC) probe over his bloody drug war.
“Be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved, that the House of Representatives declares unequivocal defense of former president Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the 16th president of the Republic of the Philippines, in any investigation and/or prosecution by the ICC,” states the resolution shown to media by Arroyo’s office on Thursday, February 16.
The other 18 lawmakers who filed the resolution are:
- Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales (Pampanga 3rd District)
- Deputy Majority Leader Marilyn Primicias-Agabas (Pangasinan 6th District)
- Assistant Majority Leader Richard Gomez (Leyte 4th District)
- Muslim affairs committee chair Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (Lanao del Norte 1st District)
- Rural development committee chair Wilton Kho (Masbate 3rd District)
- Government enterprises committee chair Edwin Olivarez (Parañaque 1st District)
- Jose Alvarez (Palawan 2nd District)
- Lorento Amante (Laguna 3rd District)
- Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy (Caloocan 2nd District)
- Dale Corvera (Agusan del Norte 2nd District)
- Edward Hagedorn (Palawan 3rd District)
- Jon Lazatin (Pampanga 1st District)
- Eric Martinez (Valenzuela 2nd District)
- Ann Matibag (Laguna 1st District)
- Johnny Pimentel (Surigao del Sur 2nd District)
- Eduardo Rama Jr. (Cebu City 2nd District)
- Zaldy Villa (Siquijor)
- Anna York (Pampanga 4th District)
The ICC resumed its investigation into Duterte’s drug war in late January, after it hit pause in November 2022.
The court has said it was not satisfied with materials provided by the Philippines to prove that it is willing and able to genuinely investigate the killings on its own.
The official death toll from the notorious anti-narcotics campaign is around 6,000, based on police records, but human rights groups believe the fatalities could go as high as 30,000.
The resolution filed by Arroyo’s group said the Duterte administration ushered in “remarkable achievements brought about by his relentless campaign against illegal drugs, insurgency, separatism and terrorism, corruption in government, and criminality.”
“The country’s peace and order situation considerably improved due to the Duterte administration’s holistic and whole nation approach in ending insurgency and curbing the drug menace in the country that resulted [in] unprecedented growth in exports and investment,” the document read.
Duterte unilaterally withdrew the Philippines’ membership from the ICC in 2018, a time when then-prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened the inquiry, while President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has kept the policy.
Relating to Duterte
Arroyo said she does not want Duterte to suffer the same fate as her.
The country’s second female president once faced a plunder case that put her in hospital arrest for nearly four years under the administration of her successor Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. She walked free in 2016, after the Supreme Court during the Duterte administration acquitted her.
Arroyo, thanking Duterte, had said in 2019 that her close ally “provided the atmosphere” that led to her acquittal.
“Former president Arroyo said she is especially keen on ensuring that justice is meted out fairly to everyone as she too was once a victim of unfair investigation and prosecution during the time of then-president Noynoy Aquino, her immediate successor,” her office’s press release read.
Their relationship goes way back to Arroyo’s years as president; Duterte said he was a “close confidant” of Arroyo.
When Duterte was president, he revived several Arroyo-era key policies, and described her as a “true living icon in Philippine politics.”
Arroyo’s political party Lakas-CMD provided formidable machinery that led to the landslide victory of Duterte’s daughter Sara in the 2022 vice presidential race. – Rappler.com
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