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Pinoys in Europe urge UN to press investigations into Duterte’s human rights violations

Report and photo by Rex Culao

GENEVA, Switzerland—Filipinos in Europe held a rally at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in this city to press for an international investigation into harassments against human rights defenders and critics of the Rodrigo Duterte government in the Philippines.

Geneva Forum as well as Europe-based chapters of Migrante, Anakbayan and Gabriela gathered at the city center last Wednesday, October 6, as the 48th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was ongoing.

The groups said they also support the investigation by the International Criminal Court on the state of human rights in the Philippines.

“Activists have been killed over the last year, both by the security forces and by unknown individuals. In many instances, activists were killed after being red-tagged. In virtually none of the cases has anyone been held accountable for the killings,” the groups in a statement said.

The organizations urged the UNHRC to establish mechanisms that would address rights violations in the Philippines.

“We appeal to International organizations and community to help us put an immediate stop to the criminalization and attacks against activists, lawyers and journalists, which has continued over the year, with impunity, despite the fact that the UNHRC has adopted the resolution extending technical assistance and capacity-building to the Philippine government,” the protesters said.

In his speech, Fr. Angel Cortez of Franciscan International noted that the proposed investigation by the UNHRC on the state of human rights in the Philippines has yet to fully proceed.

“As a Filipino, I want to raise a voice and bring the voice of our people on the present situation in Duterte’s administration that until now there’s no independent investigation mandated by the UNHRC and the killings is go on amid the [coronavirus] pandemic.”

President Duterte said UNHRC and ICC investigations are unwanted interventions into internal matters and have threatened to slap and arrest international investigators who dare come into the Philippines.

During the rally, the protesters also expressed support to international rights institutions such as CIVICUS Monitor and Investigate PH that demanded accountability for the perpetrators of rights violations in the Philippines.

In a recent country research brief, CIVICUS Monitor said that “serious civic freedoms violations continue to occur, creating a chilling effect within civil society” a year after the UNHRCs adoption of a resolution that pointed out extrajudicial killings and political repression in the Philippines.

CIVICUS Monitor said the resolution is “profoundly weak” if it does not investigate violations in the Philippines as recommended by UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in 2020. #

Int’l community urged to press investigations on PH rights violations

The 52 drug war cases investigated by the Department of Justice only comprise .9% of the 5,655 cases of drug-related killings it admitted before the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2020.

There is no effective domestic mechanism to deliver justice and accountability for human rights violations in the Philippines, making investigations by the international community necessary and urgent, rights alliance Karapatan said.

Despite repeated promises of cooperation made by Philippine government officials to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said the country’s domestic mechanisms remain ineffective and inadequate in delivering justice.

Palabay said that both the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Administrative Order No. 35 (AO 35) and the inter-agency panel on the drug war have yet to show any significant progress in holding the perpetrators of human rights violations accountable.

Palabay called on the UNHRC to press on with its plan to conduct investigations on the state of human rights in the Philippines to coincide with the International Criminal Court’s own investigations on the thousands of deaths resulting from President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs campaign.

Slow pace of investigations

From the creation of the AO 35 task force in 2012 up to December 2019, the group has handled only 385 cases, including cases that date all the way back to 2001 under the term of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Palabay revealed.

Citing government’s own reports, Palabay further revealed there were only 13 convictions while 127, or 33% of the cases, were dismissed and the perpetrators were either cleared or acquitted by the courts.

She also noted the slow progress of majority of the investigations and prosecution, with 111 cases archived while 89 are still under investigation.

Recent cases added to the list include the brutal killings of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Randall Echanis, Karapatan human rights worker Zara Alvarez, the massacre of nine Tumandok tribes people in Panay Island, and the killings in the Bloody Sunday raids in Southern Tagalog region—all perpetrated during the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.

“[T]he task force fails to uphold its mandate when the same violations continue with even more brazenness, especially under this murderous regime which issues clear directives for State forces to kill, kill, and kill,” Palabay pointed out.

UNHRC promise going nowhere

Palabay also scored the apparent failure of the Duterte government to deliver on its promise to the UNHRC’s 44th General Assembly in July 2020 of “public transparency and full accountability” on drug-related killings.

On August 16, 2021, justice secretary Guevarra, in behalf of the Duterte administration, announced it has reviewed 52 drug war cases forwarded by the Philippine National Police to his office.

“[But] no report has been made public by the DOJ (Department of Justice). The 52 drug war cases comprise only .9% of the 5,655 deaths cited by Guevarra in his June 2020 statement before the HRC,” Palabay complained.

 “These cases are a mere drop in the bucket of reported drug war killings, and yet a year since the drug war panel has been in place, the public has not seen any report and has not heard of any substantial effort to hold the perpetrators accountable,” Palabay said.

Palabay further questioned the DOJ’s ability to inspire confidence among victims and their families to cooperate with its investigation, more so that its task force includes those who are accused of being violations perpetrators themselves.

“It raises the issue of the task force’s credibility and independence, and therefore, its effectiveness in fulfilling its mandate,” Palabay said.

‘Good luck’

President Duterte and his spokespersons however rejected calls for investigations by the international community on the human rights situation in the country.

Duterte himself threatened to either block, arrest or slap experts brave enough to come to the Philippines.

Presidential spokesperson Herminio L. Roque Jr. is no less derisive of the planned investigations, declaring the Duterte government will not cooperate with the ICC.

“For its own good, they should drop the case rather than prove to the world that the local courts are inutile… Good luck on obtaining the cooperation of the Philippine state,” Roque said.

Presidential chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo also said investigations from abroad are blatant interference in Philippine domestic affairs.

Life-saving

Palabay however pressed for both ICC and UNHRC investigations to proceed to stop the Duterte administration from its unending killing spree.

“We call on the UN Human Rights Council and the international community to press for an independent international investigation, in line with the recommendation of (UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle) Bachelet that in the absence of clear and measurable outcomes from domestic mechanisms, options for international accountability measures should be considered,” Palabay insisted.

“The international independent investigation by the UN Human Rights Council is an important and life-saving step and approach to address the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines,” Palabay said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lawyers, activists hail ICC decision to investigate Duterte’s war on drugs

Neri Colmenares, a lawyer for the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK) in the Philippines, hailed the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to initiate investigations on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

In his reaction to the ICC’s decision Wednesday night, Colmenares said justice may be near for the victims, estimated to be between 8,000 and 30,000.

“This ICC decision to investigate the EJKs in the Philippines is a major step to justice! The families of thousands of EJK victims have long asked for the accountability of the killers. Malapit na po!” Colmenares said.

The former Bayan Muna Representative serves as lawyer for the group Rise Up for Life and for Rights that was among those who filed complaints with the ICC in 2018.

In earlier interviews, Colmenares said at least seven families have identified police officers involved in the killing of suspected anti-drug operations and have resolved to press charges before the international tribunal despite threats and intimidation.

The ICC’s pre-trial chamber decision.

In a September 15 decision issued from its The Hague, The Netherlands headquarters, an ICC pre-trial chamber authorized the commencement of an investigation of the alleged crimes between November 1, 2011 and March 16, 2019 in the context of Duterte’s so-called war on drugs campaign.

The period also covers the time when Duterte was still Davao City mayor.

Prior to her retirement in June this year, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested for judicial authorization to proceed with investigation regarding the country’s situation in relation to Duterte’s drug war. 

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr., fierce critic of Duterte’s drug war, also hailed the ICC decision.

“This is a historic moment for the Philippines and a crucial step towards justice and accountability,” Reyes said.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) likewise welcomed the ICC decision that came as the country’s biggest group of human rights lawyers observes its 14th founding anniversary today, September 16.

It was the NUPL that first expressed alarm over the rise of extrajudicial killings mere days into the Duterte presidency.

“It was July 4, 2016 when we first publicly called out against the madness of the extrajudicial killings in the bloody drug campaign against the poor. Now the ICC has opened the doors for a new beginning. It has been a long and tortuous journey so far,” the NUPL said.

The group’s jubilation however is marred by the killing of yet another member and officer in Mindanao, reportedly the 75th lawyer to be killed under the Duterte administration.

Human rights lawyer Atty. Juan Macababbad was shot dead by two assassins on board a motorcycle in Surallah, South Cotabato at 5:30 pm Wednesday.

Davao Today reported the victim was about to close the gates of his home in Zone 2, Brgy. Libertad when the assailants fired seven shots that killed the lawyer.

Macabbbad was vice-president of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao and NUPL founding member.

Duterte said he does not acknowledge the ICC’s authority to prosecute him, more so after the ordered the country’s withdrawal of its ratification of the Rome Statute the established the tribunal in March 2019.

The ICC however said that the Philippines was still a signatory to the treaty when a complaint against Duterte and his police officers was filed in 2018. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

ITANONG MO KAY PROF: Duterte, ICC, NTF-ELCAC, SONA at Eleksyong 2022

Panayam ng Kodao Productions, sa pamamagitan ni Prof. Sarah Raymundo, kay Prof. Jose Maria Sison hinggil sa mga isyu ukol kay Pangulong Duterte, International Criminal Court (ICC), National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), State of the Nation Address (SONA), at Eleksyong 2022.

ITANONG MO KAY PROF

Duterte, ICC, NTF-ELCAC, SONA at Eleksyong 2022

July 12, 2021

Prof Sarah: Isang maganda at mapagpalayang araw sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig. Nagbabalik ang Itanong Mo Kay Prof!

Usap-usapan ang pagtakbo muli ni Duterte sa pusisyong Vice-President sa halalan 2022. Si Sara Duterte naman ang Presidente sa tambalang ito. Simula nang sumingaw ang ganitong usapan, napakaraming mamamayan ang nagugulat, nababahala, nagagalit, at marami-rami na rin ang mga kritiko mula sa oposisyon, kilusang progresibo, samahan ng mga abogado, periodista, educador, taong-simbahan at kabataan ang nagpahayag ng kritikal na suri rito.

Sabi nga ng mga kritiko, kapit-tuko si Duterte sa kapangyarihang ginamit lang naman niya para sa korapsyon, karahasan at sukdulang pagpapahamak sa ekonomiya at mamamayan sa gitna ng pandemya.

Makakasama natin muli si Professor Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson Emeritus ng ILPS at Chief Political Consultant ng NDF upang mapagusapan at masuri ang usaping ito at iba pang kaugnay na usapin katulad ng imbestigasyon ng International Criminal Court kay Duterte, ang Peace Talks at CASER, at ilan sa mga sikat na personahe na tatakbo bilang presidente sa 2022. Maalab na pagbati, Prof. Sison!

Prof Sison: Maalab na makabayan pagbati sa iyo Prof. Sarah Raymundo at sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig.

Mga Tanong

  1. Prof Sison, ano po ang masasabi ninyo sa pagtakbo raw ni Pangulong Duterte sa 2022 eleksyon bilang vice president? At may nauulinigan din na tatakbong presidente naman si Sara Duterte. Ano ang inyong opinion sa bagay na ito?

JMS: Garapal na kasakiman ng iisang pamilya na kandidatong presidente at bise president sina Sara Duterte at Rodrigo Duterte. Nais nilang magpanatili ng dinastiya. Dating pamantayan na sa isang partido ang nagtatambal na kandidato para sa tungkuling presidente at bise presidente ay galing sa magkaibang rehiyon. Ang dalawang sakim na Duterte ay galing sa iisang pamilya. Pambihira talaga. Naiilang pati ang mga alyado nila. Sabi nila political incest.

  • Hindi pa klaro kung sino sino nga ba ang tatakbong presidente sa 2022. Pero may nakapagsabi na tatakbo daw si Senator Manny Paquiao at Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. Ano ang inyong masasabi hinggil dito, Prof Sison? Sa tingin niyo ba may pag-asa ang mamamayan sa dalawang ito?

JMS: Malalakas ang dalawang posibleng kandidato na binanggit mo, sina Manila Mayor Isko Moreno at Senator Manny Pacquiao. Malayong matitinong lider ang dalawang ito kaysa sa mga Duterte.  Maasahan sila ng mga mamamayan. Mas malaki rin ang following nila kung ihambing sa following ng mga Duterte.  Imbento lamang ng mga bayarang poll survey firm at troll army ang umano’y mataas na popularity rating ng mga Duterte.

Dahil sa napakaraming krimen na gawa ni Duterte laban sa sambayanang Pilipino, kaunti  na lang ang sumusunod kay Digong Duterte. Itinuturing siyang traidor at bentador ng West Philipine Sea sa Tsina, berdugo at mamatay-tao, mandarambong at manggagantso. Pero kontrolado niya ang Comelec at bilangan ng boto sa halalan ng 2022.

  • Ang International Criminal Court (ICC) ay handa ng mag-imbestiga sa Pilipinas hinggil sa mga kinakaharap na kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang tao ni Duterte sa mamamayan. Inisnab ito ni Duterte. Sinasabing hindi naman na tayo kasapi ng ICC kaya walang dapat harapin sa kanila. Ano ang inyong paliwanag sa bagay na ito Prof Sison?

JMS: Maliwanag sa Tratado ng Roma na nagbuo ng International Criminal Court na saklaw pa rin nito ang mga krimeng gawa ni Duterte habang myembro pa ang Pilipinas sa tratado kahit na umalis pa ang Pilipinas sa tratado.  Isa pa, kahit na maging presidente ang anak niya at siya ay maging bise presidente at haharangin nila ang warrant of arrest, puedeng lagyan na ng ICC ng emcumbrance ang mga bank account at investments ni Duterte sa abroad para managot sa mga damage claims ng mga biktima.

Kung maging presidente at bise ang dalawang Duterte sa pamamagitan ng pandaraya tulad ng ginawa sa midterm elections noong 2019, tiyak na magkakagulo sa Pilipinas at  mapapatalsik sila mula sa kapangyarihan tulad ni Marcos noong 1986. Kung mapipigil nila ang posibilidad na ito, lulubha ang krisis sa ekonomiya at pulitika ng naghaharing sistema at lalagablab ang armadong rebolusyon ng sambayanang Pilipino hanggang maibagsak ang mga Duterte. Puede pang habulin si Duterte ng people’s court ng kilusang rebolusyonaryo kung mailagan nya ang ICC at justice system ng reaksyonaryong gobyerno.

  • Ang National Task Force – End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) ang nagpapatupad ng Executive Order 70. Grabe ang ginagawa nilang red tagging sa mga indibidwal at organisasyon. Kayo Prof Sison ay kasama rin sa nilalagyan ng sungay ng mga ito at ikinakalat inyong larawan hindi lamang sa Kamaynilaan kundi maging sa mga probinsya. Ano po ang inyong masasabi sa kanila?

JMS: Mga militarista at pasista, mga mamatay tao at mga magnanakaw ang nasa National Task Force-ELCAC.  Sila ang mga tunay na terorista.  Nagrered-tagging sila sa mga indibidwal at organisasyon na pumupuna at sumasalungat sa mga krimen ng rehimeng Duterte. Pagkatapos pinapatay at inaagawan ng ari-arian ang mga biktima ng red-tagging. 

Antemano bilyun-bilyung piso ang pondo ng task force. Pinagnanakawan ito ni Duterte at mga heneral niya sa ngalan ng surveillance, intelligence, psywar, arrest, combat operations at pakunwaring community development. Walang auditing. Yong red-tagging at murder operations ng task force ay para takutin ang masa, kontrolin ang takbo at resulta ng halalang 2022 at mangurakot ng pondo ng bayan.

  • Marami po ang nananawagan na buwagin ang NTF-ELCAC at ibaling na lamang ang bilyon bilyong pondo nito sa ayuda sa mamamayan. Sa kasalukuyan Prof Sison ay lugmok pa rin sa kahirapan ang marami nating kababayan. Marami ang walang trabaho, nawalan ng trabaho, nabawasan ang kita at nabaon sa utang. Ano ang inyong paliwanag sa bagay na ito, Prof Sison?

JMS: Dapat buwagin ang NTF-ELCAC at ibaling  ang bilyun-bilyong pondo nito sa ayuda sa mamamayan. Makatarungan na gamitin ang pondong ito para makaahon ang marami nating kababayan mula sa kahirapan na bunga ng krisis sa ekonomiya at pandemya.

Lantad ang katotohanan na marami ang walang trabaho, nawalan ng trabaho, nabawasan ang kita, nabaon sa utang at hindi makaagapay sa implasyon o pagtaas ng presyo ng mga batayang pangangailangan sa pagkain at iba pa. Sukdulang lumala at lumaganap ang kahirapan sa Pilipinas dahil sa patakarang neoliberal, korapsyon, militarisasyon at pagiging pabaya ni Duterte sa pandemya.

  • Malapit na ang State of the Nation Address o SONA ni Pangulong Duterte. Ito na po ang huling taon ng kanyang administrasyon. Sa limang taong nakalipas, may ilang natutuwa sa kanyang pamumuno pero mas marami ang nagagalit at humihingi ng hustisya sa maraming paglabag sa karapatang-tao, kawalan at kapos na ayuda sa panahon ng pandemya, kawalan ng subsidyo para sa mga magsasaka, kawalan ng hanapbuhay sa maraming kababayan at marami pang KAWALAN. Ano ang inyong masasabi sa nakalipas na limang taon ni Duterte, Prof Sison?

JMS: Sa pagiging presidente, maraming malalaking krimen na ginawa ni Duterte bilang traidor, tirano, mamamatay-tao, mandarambong at manggagantso.

a. Traidor siya at papet ng dalawang imperyalistang kapangyarihan. Hinahayaan niya ang US sa pagiging dominante pa rin sa ekonomiya, pulitika, militar at kultura sa Pilipinas dahil nagbibigay ng armas na panupil sa mga mamamayan. Bentador siya ng West Philippine Sea sa Tsina at kasabwat siya ng mga kriminal na Tsinong sindikato sa pagpuslit at pagkalat ng illegal na droga.

b. Nagkunwari si Duterte na laban siya sa illegal drugs at nag-utos sa pagpaslang ng higit sa 33,000 drug suspects. Pero ginawa niya itong paraan para maging supremo ng mga drug lord, kumita ng malaki, manakot sa publiko at gawing  kriminal, korap at pribadong utusan  ang mga pulis.

k. Nagkunwari rin siyang Kaliwa at sosyalista at nangakong palayain ang lahat ng bilanggong pulitikal, magkaroon ng seryosong peace negotiations at sumunod sa people’s agenda. Pero hindi nagtagal lumitaw ang pakana niyang sirain ang peace negotiations para magpataw ng terorismo ng estado sa sambayanang Pilipino at magpanatili ng sarili sa kapangyarihan. Pananagutan ni Duterte ang pagpaslang ng maraming tao sa ngalan ng “counter-insurgency” o kontra-rebolusyon.

d. Isa pang dahilan kung bakit  sinira ng Duterte ang peace negotiations. Marahas na tutol siya sa tunay ng reporma sa lupa at pambansang industrialisasyon. Nang malapit nang malubos ang borador ng Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, nagpahiwatig na ayaw na niyang matuloy ang peace negotiations. Pusakal na burukrata kapitalista si Duterte at aso siya talaga ng mga imperyalista,malalaking komprador at asendero.

e. Nangako si Duterte na puksain  ang korupsyon sa gobyerno. Lumitaw na siya pala ang pinakagarapal na mandarambong sa pondo ng bayan. At pinalaya pa niya ang mga alyado niyang mandarambong tulad nina Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, mga Marcos, mga Estrada, Enrile, Revilla  at iba pa at pinawalang-saysay ang mga kaso laban sa kanila. Mga kasuklam-suklam na  mga burukrata kapitalista sila lahat.

g. Nangako ng subsidyo sa mga magsasaka. Hindi niya tinupad ito at hinahayaan niyang binabarat  ng mga komersyante ang lokal  produkto sa agricultura at pinaluwagan niya ang pag-angkat ng bigas at asukal. Sinira ni Duterte ang kasarinlan ng Pilipinas sa pagkain.

h. Nangako na itigil niya  ang endo. Hindi niya tinupad ito. Pinipigil pa niya ang pagtaas ng minimum wage samantalang walang tigil ang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga batayang kalakal dahil sa TRAIN law at malaking pagbagsak ng ekonomya sa nakaraang dalawang taon. Dahil sa implasyon at bangkarote ang gobyerno muhing-muhi ang mga mamamayan kay Duterte.

i. Hinayaan ni Duterte na kumalat ang Covid-19 sa Pilipinas sa palagay na kikita siya sa mga Chinese casino at 500,000 na Chinese tourist.  Pagkatapos nangako ng mass testing, libreng panggagamot at ayuda sa mga tao. Hindi tinupad ang pangako at ibinulsa niya ang bilyun-bilyon na inilaan para sa ayuda at pagbili ng bakuna at PPE para sa mga front liner.

l. Dati nang pinalulundag ni Duterte ang utang ng Pilipinas dahil sa korupsyon at military overspending. Sabi pa niyang hindi mapigil ang korupsyon at ipinagmamalaki pa na pinalalamon niya ng pera ang mga heneral. Palaki nang palaki ang depisit sa badyet ng gobyerno at sa foreign trade. Magmula 2016, pinalundag ni Duterte ang utang ng Pilipinas mula 5.9 trillion pesos hanggang 10.9 trillion pesos. Sa huling taon, pinalundag niya ng 2 trillion persos ang utang sa ngalan ng pandemya.

m. Pananagutan ni Duterte ang malubhang krisis ngayon ng naghaharing sistema sa ekonomiya at sa pulitika. Makapal pa ang mukha niyang tumindig  na magiging tunay na kapangyarihan sa likuran ni Sara bilang papet niya. Parang hindi niya alam na sa susunod na taon lalong lulubha pa ang krisis at lalong babalikwas ang masang Pilipino.

  • Meron po ba kayong gustong iwan sa ating mga tagapakinig, Prof Sison.

JMS: Dapat ilantad at kondenahin ang mga mga krimen ni Duterte. Dapat tayong magalit sa mga krimen na ito at sa tiyak na gagawin niyang  pandaraya sa darating na eleksyon para manatili sa kapangyarihan at mahadlangan ang warrant of arrest mula sa International Criminal Court.

Gawin ng sambayanang Pilipino at mga makabayan at demokratikong pwersa ang lahat na magagawa para labanan at gapiin ang lahat ng pakana at kilos ng pangkating Duterte para manlinlang at manakot sa masa at manatili sa kapangyarihan.

Pag-isipan na rin kung ano ang dapat nating gawin sa 2022 at sa anim na taon na susunod sa halalan, para sa pagsusulong ng pakikibaka para sa pambansang kalayaan at demokrasya. Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!

Prof Sison: Maraming salamat at paalam  sa inyo Sarah at sa lahat ng ating  tagapakinig.

Prof Sarah: Extro. Maraming-maraming salamat Prof. Sison para sa malaman at komprehensibong pagtalakay sa mga kasalanan sa mamamayan ni Duterte sa nakaraang limang taon. Nilinaw ni Prof Sison na walang silbi ang  pagtakbo ni Duterte, gayundin ng kanyang anak na si Sara Duterte, kundi ang matakasan ang mga kaso at krimen na patuloy na namemerwisyo sa mga mamamayan. Kaalinsabay ng pagnanais ng mga Duterte na paghariin ang impunity o ang kawalan ng pananagutan at kaparusahan para sa mga makapangyarihang gumagawa ng krimen laban sa mamamayan ay ang patuloy na pagkamal ng kita są pusisyon sa gubyerno.

Sinumang kumalaban sa kapangyarihan ni Duterte ay nararapat lamang na tahasang kondenahin at umagapay sa malawak na kilusan ng mamamayan na nagsasabing, Wakasan Na ang tiraniya sa bansa. Parusahan ang presidenteng kapit-tuko sa kapangyarihan.

Muling sumasainyo, ito po si  Sarah Raymundo, guro ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas at aktibista ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. Tandaan po natin Ang pagpili ng maka-mamamayan at makabayang mga kandidato na matapang na tutunggali sa tiraniya ay nararapat lang sabayan ng bawat mamamayan ng pakikipagkaisa sa pagbubuo at pagpapalakas ng malawak na kilusang masana nagsasabing “Duterte, wakasan na!”

End

ICC asked to proceed with investigations on Duterte gov’t’s war on drugs

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been asked to proceed with an investigation on the human rights crisis in the Philippines after the conclusion of the preliminary investigation pointing to mass murders under the Rodrigo Duterte regime.

“Following a thorough preliminary examination process, the available information indicates that members of the Philippine National Police, and others acting in concert with them, have unlawfully killed between several thousand and tens of thousands of civilians [between 2016 and 2019],” ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said.

“My Office has also reviewed information related to allegations of torture and other inhumane acts, and related events as early as 1 November 2011, the beginning of the Court’s jurisdiction in the Philippines, all of which we believe require investigation,” she added.

Bensouda said her preliminary investigation has determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder has been committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 July 2016 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the Government of Philippines’ “war on drugs” campaign.

The prosecutor said the situation in the Philippines has been under preliminary examination since February 2018 when her office started analyzing “a large amount of publicly available information and information provided to it under article 15 of the Rome Statute.”

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is a treaty that established the permanent international court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

Lawyer Jude Sabio filed charges before the ICC on April 2017 accusing Duterte of crimes against humanity in connection with the thousands of deaths of suspected illegal drug dependents.

In 2017, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV traveled to The Hague, The Netherlands to submit information bolstering Sabio’s charges.

The group Rise Up for Life and for Rights composed of families of the victims of Duterte’s war on drugs also submitted a complaint before the ICC in 2018.

Duterte responded by ordering the Philippines’ withdrawal of its ratification of the Rome Statute and repeatedly insulting Bensouda.

Bensouda however clarified that although the Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute effective March 17, 2019, the ICC retains jurisdiction over crimes that are alleged to have occurred on the territory of the country during the period when it was still a party to the statute.

“Moreover, these crimes are not subject to any statute of limitation,” she explained.

Karapatan photo

Welcome development

Bensouda’s announcement was welcomed by human rights and activist groups as a “long-awaited step towards justice and accountability.”

“[I]t is yet another damning indictment of the Duterte government’s murderous policies that have killed — and continue to kill — thousands of Filipinos with impunity,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

“Karapatan, together with the families of the victims of the drug war and other human rights advocates, welcomes this significant and much-needed development amid the backdrop of the rapidly deteriorating human rights crisis in the Philippines,” Palabay added.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said that one of Duterte’s grossest crimes is its so-called war on illegal drugs.

“In spite of the thousands upon thousands killed, the illegal drugs scourge has gone unabated, proving it is ineffective,” Reyes said.

The ICC prosecutor’s findings is another clear basis why darkness should never be allowed to reign over our country. The regime of state-sponsored killings must be stopped,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Impunity charge vs China filed at ICC

Former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario filed a complaint against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “check impunity” in the disputed South China Sea. Morales said they want to send a clear message to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte administration and to all Filipinos. “We demand accountability from those who destroy marine areas, and we want to check impunity as a deterrent to progress,” she said.

Cartoon by Mark Suva/Kodao

PH withdrawal from ICC to worsen impunity, groups say

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — As the Philippines withdrawal from the International Criminal Court takes effect today, rights groups warned of escalating human rights abuses and further impunity.

Senatorial candidate and long-time human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s “self-serving” move. In his speech March 14 at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Colmenares said Duterte intends to evade accountability for his crimes against poor Filipinos.

The ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.

Duterte announced the country’s exit from the ICC after the tribunal started its preliminary examination of the charge of crimes against humanity filed against the President. Two complaints were filed against Duterte — one by Jude Sabio, lawyer of self-confessed Davao Death Squad member Edgar Matobato, and another by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, counsel of families of victims of extrajudicial killings.

READ: Why kin of drug war victims charged Duterte for mass murder before ICC

Still, Colmenares explained that the withdrawal has no impact on the pending complaints filed against Duterte.

He cited Article 127 Rome Statute of the ICC stating that “a State shall not be discharged, by reason of its withdrawal, from the obligations arising from this Statute while it was a Party to the Statute.” The Rome Statute further states that a State’s withdrawal shall not affect any criminal investigations and proceedings which were commenced prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective, nor shall it prejudice in any way the continued consideration of any matter which was already under consideration by the Court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective.”

Colmenares said the ICC has jurisdiction over Duterte because domestic laws provide the Philippine president immunity from suit.

For its part, human rights alliance Karapatan underscored Duterte’s “double-talk” with regard to the ICC.

“Duterte previously denied ordering extrajudicial killings, only to admit to it in several live telecast. He has also expressed willingness to subject himself to investigation under the ICC, but withdrew the country from the Rome Statute. This government has denied perpetrating human rights violations while persecuting human rights advocates and silencing the voices of victims and their kin who counter the State’s repeated denials,” Roneo Clamor, Karapatan deputy secretary general, said in a statement.

“The Duterte government is run by pathological liars and militarists who are corrupt to the core, able to subvert laws and mechanisms to evade accountability,” Clamor said.

In a separate statement, NUPL President Edre Olalia said that with the Philippines’ exit from the ICC, “victims will again be deprived of an alternative arena for redress.”

In lieu of the ICC, Olalia said other means of exacting accountability could be explored, such as the creation of a special tribunal sanctioned by the United Nations or through people’s tribunals. #