[OPINION | NEWSPOINT] Justice by foreign intervention

Vergel O. Santos

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[OPINION | NEWSPOINT] Justice by foreign intervention
Duterte is not completely out of reach by the law, and it will be ironic if it's yet the especially long arm of the International Criminal Court from the Hague, in the Netherlands, that gets him

If a former Supreme Court justice and ombudsman and a former foreign secretary, whose precise job it was to promote his country to the world, needed to seek foreign intervention to get justice for their countrymen, something must be absolutely wrong with us.

Our two actual pleaders are, respectively, Conchita Carpio Morales and Albert del Rosario. They have asked the International Criminal Court to hold China’s president, Xi Jin Ping, along with its foreign minister and its ambassador to the Philippines, accountable for the destruction of protected marine resources in the Western Philippine Sea and the deprivation of Filipino fishermen of their customary living there, in their own country’s territorial waters.

In fact, the intrusion has reached Philippine shores. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese are now landed, staying mostly in Metro Manila and working in businesses set up by capitalist compatriots, for whom online gambling seems the preference. A number have been found to have no proper papers, but the authorities tend to go easy on them. More of them arrive  as work begins on capital projects financed with onerous Chinese loans and exclusively contracted out also to Chinese builders and suppliers of materials, equipment, and labor.

Apparently well-financed, these Chinese workers are outbidding the locals for apartment space and domestic service.

But, far more dangerously, more and more Chinese-sourced illegal drugs are being turned up.

All these complications began to arise after Rodrigo Duterte, upon assuming the presidency nearly 3 years ago, ceded control over the West Philippine Sea to the Chinese. They have since built an island there and on it established a military base from which they now dispatch air and see patrols to keep away unwanted visitors.

That makes President Duterte a treasonous enabler of these Chinese intruders. But, treason being a crime of national betrayal, I guess he will have to answer to his own people in their own court for that – when the time comes. In any case, he cannot be indicted while in office, and will not be impeached so long as he has the numbers in Congress.

Given their vantage point, Morales and Del Rosario are afforded a fuller perspective on not only the Duterte regime’s sellouts but also its injustices.

Del Rosario, as foreign secretary to President Benigno Aquino III, Duterte’s predecessor, was the lead diplomat on the team that took China to the United Nations for arbitration, and won an affirmation of Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea. He could only have been outraged to see that victory effectively reversed by Duterte’s capitulation to China.

On her part, as an ombudsman reenlisted by President Aquino III upon her retirement from the Supreme Court, Morales witnessed the cooptation of that very court into the Duterte gang as evidenced by its downgrading or outright dismissal of major cases her own office was litigating.  Among the more egregious instances were the acquittal of ex-President Gloria Arroyo and the grant of provisional liberty to two senators on trial for plunder, a non-bailable crime. All 3 are Duterte allies. 

On the other side, Senator Leila de Lima, who as justice secretary brought those cases against them and also went after Duterte himself on suspicion of rights violations, has been in detention for two years now on the implausible charge of conspiracy in trafficking in illegal drugs. And Maria Lourdes Sereno, the outsider President Aquino had appointed chief justice, was ousted not by Congress, not through the normal process of impeachment, but by the Supreme Court itself, whose resentful, bypassed majority  carried the ouster vote through a mode so strange it was something hitherto unheard of except perhaps in the most studious legal clubs — “quo waranto.”

Doubtless, Morales and Del Rosario wish to have long taken Duterte to court – whatever court – if only that were possible.

But Duterte is not completely out of reach by the law, and it will be ironic if it’s yet the especially long arm of the International Criminal Court from the Hague, in the Netherlands, that gets him. Before Morales and Del Rosario took him to that court, Duterte had already been under investigation by its prosecutors on charges of summary execution – “extra-judicial killing” on the charge sheet – for the thousands of deaths in his crackdown on illegal drugs. He is, therefore, a potential indictee; once indicted, he can be arrested and taken to the Hague for trial. When that happens he is bound to get a taste of justice such as his own regime has failed to dispense. 

Then, that would be poetic. – Rappler.com

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