ICC case against Duterte regime: PH Supreme Court agrees Duterte at risk

A minor event in the investigation of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines is a hurtful reminder of thousands of lives lost. Those murders happened, but there has been no justice for the victim’s families.

Rodrigo Duterte retires as President of the Philippines next year hence his de facto protection against Rome Statute prosecution expires in mid 2022.

Perhaps “to protect himself from prison”, Duterte has been manoeuvering to “run for election as a vice presidential candidate,” according to workers on the Manny Pacquiao campaign, who have been under siege from Duterte’s vile attacks on the Philippines senator.

Both the ICC and the Philippines Supreme Court which finally published its ruling today, publicly agree Duterte is at risk of prosecution, conviction and a possible life sentence in prison for allegedly killing as many as 35,000 citizens but between 12,000 and 30,000 during the time the Philippines was a signatory to the Rome Statute, according to a statement released by  The Office of the Prosecutor, Ms. Fatou Bensouda and  Mr. James Stewart.

Today the Philippines Supreme Court released a decision saying the International Criminal Court (ICC) has the right under the Rome Statute to indict and bring to trial accused persons who are alleged to have commit crimes against humanity and other offences set out in the Rome Statute, a set of international laws the ICC adjudicates.

“Even if it has deposited the instrument of withdrawal, it shall not be discharged from any criminal proceedings. Whatever process was already initiated before the International Criminal Court obliges the state party to cooperate,” the Supreme Court said in a unanimous decision of last March, a copy of which was withheld until Wednesday 21 July. — Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen with 14 justices concurring. 

Rodrigo Duterte “Hitler massacred three [sic] million Jews. There are three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” said Rodrigo Duterte on 30 September 2016 to reporters in Davao City, Philippines. International Criminal Court can prosecute “government actors” for alleged crimes committed before the country withdrew says Philippines Supreme Court. Photo Credit: Goodreads: Biography of Rodrigo Duterte 

In a 106-page ruling that also said that Duterte had the right to withdraw from the ICC , pursuant to a petition to the SC, the Philippines Supreme Court ruling dated March 16 was finally published on July 21. The Supreme Court said,  “even if it [the Philippines’ Duterte government] has deposited the instrument of withdrawal, it shall not be discharged from any criminal proceedings.”  

The International Criminal Court is a court of last resort for prosecution of serious international crimes, including war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity for which local law enforcement and jurisprudence has either failed or refuses to deal with. Read if you wish the Rome Statute.

Read: ICC says Duterte regime murdered 12k-30k. Duterte response is history in the making.

The International Criminal Court’s judges agreed that despite Rodrigo Duterte’s pulling the Philippines from the ICC, that if an investigation reveals that crimes against the Rome Statute had been committed in the time during which the Philippines was signatory to the statute and member of the Court, the full force of the ICC would be in place for the period.

“On 14 June 2021, the Prosecutor announced the completion of her preliminary examination of the situation in Philippines, having concluded that there was a reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity has been committed. Consequently, the Prosecutor has requested judicial authorisation to proceed with an investigation.” Citing ICC Release

Persons named and accused specifically in Extra Judicial Killing allegations against the Duterte Regime.

  1. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte
  2. Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre
  3. Former Philippines Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa
  4. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez
  5. Former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno
  6. Police Superintendent Edilberto Leonardo
  7. Senior Police Officer Sanson “Sonny” Buenaventura
  8. Police Superintendent Royina Garma
  9. National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran
  10. Solicitor General Jose Calida
  11. Sen. Richard Gordon
  12. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano
    and more.

In requiem for innocent lives lost.

Children in the Philippines are at high risk. Duterte calls murdered kids collateral damage Children in the Philippines are at high risk. Duterte calls murdered kids collateral damage. Image courtesy The RINJ Foundation

International Criminal Court prosecutor said, “reasonable basis to believe that the Crime Against Humanity of Murder was committed ”

Judge Péter Kovács, Presiding Judge
Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou
Judge María del Socorro Flores Liera, were asked on 14 June 2021 to proceed in case against Duterte et al.

“The Prosecution submits that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the Crime Against Humanity of Murder was committed from at least 1 July 2016 to 16 March 2019 in the context of the Philippine government’s “war on drugs” (“WoD”) campaign. Information obtained by the Prosecution suggests that state actors, primarily members of the Philippine security forces, killed thousands of suspected drug users and other civilians during official law enforcement operations. Markedly similar crimes were committed outside official police operations, reportedly by so-called “vigilantes”, although information suggests that some vigilantes were in fact police officers, while others were private citizens recruited, coordinated, and paid by police to kill civilians. The total number of civilians killed in connection with the WoD between July 2016 and March 2019 appears to be between 12,000 and 30,000,” writes Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda in her pleadings to the Pre-Trial Chamber of three judges in the International Criminal Court. (ICC-Philippines-Investigation-CR2021_05381)



Additional reading and reference.

  1. The Actual Congress of the Philippines Impeachment Document which sets out that Philippines rule of law mechanisms failed.
  2. If you are Poor in the Philippines You Are Killed – Amnesty International
  3. Philippines A Pariah in the 2016-2017 Report of Amnesty International
  4. Human Rights Watch – License