Int’l tribunal to try US, Duterte, Marcos Jr’s war crimes in the PH

An International People’s Tribunal (IPT) will be held in Europe on May 17 and 18, Friday and Saturday, to try allegations of war crimes in the Philippines by the United States of America and the Rodrigo Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. governments.

Co-convened by the Friends of the Filipino People in Struggle (FFPS) and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), the IPT is a quasi-judicial forum to investigate and address alleged international humanitarian law violations in the Philippines.

The tribunal will examine violations of the Philippine government’s “means and methods of warfare and the objects and subjects of attack,” the convenors announced.

The violations include extrajudicial and summary killings of civilians and hors d’combat, desecration of remains of combatants, massacre of civilians and other forms of collective punishment, torture, enforced disappearances, mass arrests, indiscriminate firing, indiscriminate aerial bombing of communities and use of white phosphorus bombs, hamletting, (and) terrorist labeling, the IPT said.

The court will also investigate the use of repressive terror laws, assassination of civilians, attacks on schools, fake or forced surrenders, attacks against peace consultants and other forms of suppression, it added.

The complaints to be investigated at IPT 2024.

The IPT said it shall focus on war crimes under both Duterte and Marcos’s counter-insurgency operations patterned after the US National Security Strategy and the US “Counterinsurgency Guide.”

Although not a regular court and is independent from governments and inter-government institutions, the tribunal said it shall follow a structured legal process and the standards of due process and credible evidence.

“The proceedings aim to ensure a fair and impartial process by appointing a diverse panel of expert jurors and providing opportunity for the defendant/s to be heard,” it said.

“While the IPT’s findings are not legally binding, they contribute to the documentation of historical truths and shape international public opinion and could be a basis for future legal action,” the IPT added.

IPT 2018 vs. the Rodrigo Duterte government.

Precedent peoples’ tribunals

People’s tribunals take inspiration from the Russell Tribunal, also known as the International War Crimes Tribunal, which held two sessions in 1967 to expose the war crimes committed against the Vietnamese people.

It was organized by philosophers Bertrand Russell, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and other intellectuals.

This was succeeded by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) that was founded in June 1979 in Italy by law experts, writers, and other intellectuals.

WHAT WENT BEFORE: Int’l tribunal on Duterte’s ‘gross violations’ underway in Belgium

IPT 2024 shall be the seventh on the Philippines stretching four decades:

  • October 30-November 1, 1980: In 1980, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal convened its First Session on the Philippines to hear the case against the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., at the suite of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). It was the first international quasi-juridical body to condemn the US-sponsored Marcos dictatorship.
  • August 19, 2005: The series of peoples’ tribunals on the Philippines first took on an international character on August 19, 2005, in Quezon City, Philippines. The IPT 2005 delivered a guilty verdict against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for gross human rights violations against the Filipino People.
  • March 21-25, 2007: In recognition of the urgency of the appeal of the Initiating Group of Philippine Organizations, the PPT decided to convene the Second Session on the Philippines indicting the US-Backed Arroyo Regime for Human Rights violations, Economic Plunder and Transgression of the Filipino People’s Sovereignty on March 21-25, 2007, in the Hague, the Netherlands.
  • July 16-18, 2015: The IPT 2015 was held in Washington, D.C. to address crimes against the Filipino people by former president Benigno S. Aquino III and the US Government, as represented by then President Barack Obama. The IPT 2015 found that the Aquino regime, with support from the US through military intervention, economic and environmental exploitation, and imposition of neoliberal globalization, committed systematic violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Filipino people.
  • September 18-19, 2018: The IPT 2018 was held in Brussels, Belgium. The tribunal issued a verdict at its conclusion finding former president Rodrigo Duterte and then US president Donald Trump responsible for human rights violations against the people of the Philippines. Experts and victims of human rights violations presented testimonies on poverty, homelessness, the ‘drug war’, political repression, extrajudicial killings, the oppression of women and a range of other issues.
  • May 17-18, 2024: This year, the IPT will once again convene to hear the case of the Filipino people versus the US-backed counterrevolutionary war of the Duterte and Marcos regimes and their violations of International Humanitarian Law.

WHAT WENT BEFORE: Int’l tribunal finds Duterte ‘guilty’ of slaughter and other crimes

IPT 2018.

The IPT said it will be assisted by an international team of prosecutors and will involve the presentation of live and recorded testimonies from witnesses and victims, analyses and opinions by experts, and submission of sworn statements, studies, reports, and other documents.

A panel of jurors, consisting of legal experts and prominent human rights personalities, shall preside over the tribunal who shall be responsible for presenting a summary and preliminary verdict, it added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)