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MANILA, Philippines – Members of the House of Representatives are again calling on government agencies to help the International Criminal Court (ICC) conduct its investigation into former president Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs.
Manila 6th District Representative Bienvenido Abante, House committee on human rights chair, and 1-Rider Representative Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez filed House Resolution No. 1477 on Monday, November 20, urging the government “to extend their full cooperation to the ICC Prosecutor with respect to its investigation of any alleged crime within the jurisdiction of the ICC.”
“The Philippine government’s initial request for the ICC Prosecutor to defer its investigation, and the Philippine government’s subsequent petition before the ICC Appeals Chamber, clearly demonstrate that the Philippine government respects the rule of international law and recognizes the proceedings of the ICC,” the proposed resolution read.
It has been assigned to the justice panel.
The Marcos administration’s recent appeal to stop the probe was junked, giving ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan and his team the go-signal to continue their investigation.
Khan is looking into crimes committed from November 1, 2011, to March 16, 2019.
A group of 19 lawmakers, led by Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, earlier urged their colleagues to “declare unequivocal defense” of Duterte from any investigation of the ICC. Among them was Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales, who resigned from PDP-Laban after Duterte called the chamber “rotten.”
Makabayan nudges House leadership
In October, Makabayan lawmakers filed House Resolution No. 1393, which also sought support for the probe.
It specifically mentioned Duterte’s admission of using intelligence funds to carry out extrajudicial killings when he was Davao City mayor. The former president had said this in the same television interview where he threatened Castro’s life as well as attacked the House of Representatives and its leadership.
“We urge the House leadership to support and co-author this resolution to show that we do not tolerate EJKs and that we are working for justice to be served to his victims and their families,” ACT Teachers Representative France Castro said in a statement on October 18.
During the TV interview, Duterte had said: “Ang intelligence fund, binili ko, pinapatay ko lahat. Kaya ganoon ang Davao. ‘Yung mga kasama ninyo pinatigok ko talaga. ‘Yun ang totoo.“
(I acquired the intelligence fund and had everyone killed. That’s why Davao is the way it is. I really eliminated those who were with you. That’s the truth.)
Meanwhile, Magdalo group national chairman and former senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV said they submitted the video of Duterte’s interview to the ICC. Two days later, Trillanes said the court acknowledged the new submission.
Magdalo was among the first groups that lodged supporting documentation to the international court. In 2017, the group called for a preliminary examination “to provide a glimmer of hope for the thousands of victims that Duterte’s impunity would soon end.”
“[We] are urging the Marcos administration to allow the ICC investigators into the country in order to make ex-president [Duterte] accountable for his crimes against humanity,” Trillanes said on October 16.
“Justice is long overdue.”
Senator Bato dela Rosa, Duterte’s first police chief and architect of his drug war, said in a statement that even if the resolution is adopted by the House, it would not have any bearing unless President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. supports it.
“If that resolution is approved by the House of Representatives, it will remain a resolution unless acted upon favorably by the President who has made clear of his decision not to allow ICC to intrude our sovereignty. These gov’t agencies are taking orders from the President and not from Congress,” said Dela Rosa.
House Resolution 1477 is the latest in a string of victories for critics of Duterte’s drug war.
Leila de Lima, a vocal critic of the drug war, is finally out on bail after nearly seven years of detention. The former justice secretary and senator said she would “help in whatever capacity” when it comes to the investigation in hopes of justice for the victims of the drug war.
Last May, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. admitted there were abuses committed by “certain elements” of Duterte’s government. Prior to this, he had said in March that the Philippines would disengage with the ICC after the court rejected an earlier appeal.
As for Duterte, he said he would rather “rot in prison.”
Duterte’s former spokesperson and now legal counsel Harry Roque, reiterated in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart last week that Duterte “will face the legal process, but only before Filipinos, and he will not allow any foreign judge to sit in judgment of him.” – With a report from Bonz Magsambol/Rappler.com