Rodrigo Duterte

[Edgewise] How Duterte can elude ICC arrest

Rene Ciria Cruz

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[Edgewise] How Duterte can elude ICC arrest
Rene Ciria Cruz takes a satirical look at what Rodrigo Duterte might need to do to elude arrest by the International Criminal Court

Bad boy, bad boy, whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Ex-President Duterte could be facing the music soon, some say as early as July, when they, the ICC, come with a warrant for his arrest for masterminding crimes against humanity – his drug war’s extrajudicial killings.

Although President Marcos Jr. officially pledged non-cooperation with the ICC, his Department of Justice is signaling openness to the contrary. Plus, the human rights committee of the House led by his cousin Speaker Martin Romualdez have started a probe of Duterte’s EJKs, effectively a flanking move and indirect fire at Martin’s archrival for the presidency in 2028, Vice President Sara Duterte.

To top it all off, the Supreme Court had unanimously ruled in March 2021 that the Philippines must still cooperate with ongoing ICC criminal proceedings even if the government has withdrawn from the international court. 

It looks like the only thing keeping Marcos Jr. from rolling out the welcome mat for the ICC is VP Sara’s professed loyalty to him. So, Tatay Digong’s fate is hanging by a thread, and even that is being snipped at by first lady Liza Marcos, who bitterly distrusts Sara’s purported fidelity to the Uniteam, which is Unithin by now.

To parry the ICC Sword of Damocles, Tatay Digong has been orchestrating rallies against “foreign interference” (and he doesn’t mean by China), calling for “drug addict” President Marcos Jr.’s resignationMindanao’s secession, a coup d’etat, and even hinting at assassination. 

All this in hopes that a “people power” uprising and/or military coup would install Sara as president so she can conclusively block the ICC at the gates. Unfortunately for Tatay Digong, political destabilization is often easier yearned for than done. Oh, dear, what can he do?

Well, here are tips for his next survival moves should his existential journey end when the ICC’s arrest warrant gets here:

Run to where your BFF Pastor Quiboloy is holed up. Law enforcers have woefully failed to find him, so he must have some really awesome hideout. Also, Quiboloy is the only “Son of God” who is scared to death of martyrdom. So, piggy-back on him and you’ll be fine.

Exile is another option, but don’t go via the usual, legit means. The Interpol will have issued a red notice, and you will be arrested by local authorities at any international airport or port of call. 

Instead, finally put that famous jet ski of yours to good use and zoom across the West Philippine Sea – to the nearest China-built artificial island. Next stop: Beijing. After all, what are secret gentlemen’s agreements for? Your former press secretary Martin Andanar will take a break from his gainful China Global Television Network anchor job to welcome you.

But please, don’t “die first rather than face the ICC” as you’ve dramatically declared. That’s simply not an option. We’d be deeply, profoundly, intensely disappointed not to see you have your day in court.

Finally, with all that being said, if death is truly your preference, make suitable preparations to make sure people will never forget you: 

First, don’t ever let Bamban, Tarlac’s POGO mayor Alice Guo have anything to do with your death certificate or we wouldn’t know you’ve been dead for many years. On the other hand, she likely wouldn’t remember who you were, Your Honor.

Speaking of remembrance and in keeping with Chinese tradition, consult a feng shui master to find the best place to deposit your mortal remains. It should be some place really memorable. 

Perhaps right next Dictator Marcos Sr.’s tomb at Libingan ng mga Bayani, to remind us that you were responsible for that. It would also be a final dig at Marcos Jr. for shamelessly defaulting on his family’s debt of gratitude to you.

For a last populist gesture of common-man authenticity, and in support of Filipino cottage industry, have the humble yet clever Libing Things Funeral Parlor arrange your burial needs. The optics will be great; just like your photo-op karinderya lunches. 

Pre-assemble a team of gravesite Crying Ladies with wannabe daughter Imee Marcos, Maharlika of Boljak TV, “foreign affairs expert” troll Sass Sasot, and Harry Roque.

Have Sara prepare a touching eulogy, but this time not in her famous Mandarin, please. See if your forever yes-man and tokhang enforcer Senator Bato de la Rosa could send a eulogy, perhaps in Dutch by then. In ancient times, slaves were buried along with their powerful masters, but today a eulogy will do.

Satire aside, the power plays before us have absolutely nothing to do with defeating inflation, ridding government of corruption, reducing poverty, or checking the perilous decline of Philippine education. They’re just the jockeying for supremacy among dynastic camps in the country’s debilitating system of patronage “democracy.” 

In the next few years, politics at the top will continue to be marked by the colliding orbits of ex-Prexy Digong, Prexy Bongbong, Veep Sara, Speaker Martin, Senator Imee, and first lady Liza, a several-body problem that can challenge the known physics of the universe. Imelda Marcos’ famous “hole in the sky” that makes our special islands special might be real after all. –

Rene Ciria Cruz is an editor at He edited the book A Time to Rise: Collective Memoirs of the Union of Democratic Filipinos (KDP), (UP Press), and was’s US Bureau Chief 2013-2023. He has written for the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Chronicle, Pacific News Service, and California Lawyer Magazine.

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I strongly agree with the statement that the current power struggles in our country have nothing to do with addressing critical issues such as inflation, corruption, poverty, or the decline of our education system. Instead, they seem to be centered around competing dynastic groups within our system of patronage ‘democracy.’ However, these power struggles provide a source of livelihood for political commentators, writers, bloggers, vloggers, and media personalities, and they also serve as a form of political entertainment for the Filipino people.

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