Tribunal’s guilty verdict ‘world’s judgement on war crimes in the PH’

The guilty verdict on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., former president Rodrigo Duterte, and the Philippine government, as well on President Joseph Biden and the government of the United States of America (USA) is the world’s judgements on their war crimes in the Philippines, human rights group Karapatan said.

Following the conclusion of the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) held in Brussels, Belgium last May 17 and 18, Karapatan said it welcomes the quasi-judicial body’s judgement as an opportunity to exact and accountability from the respondents.

“With this verdict from the IPT, we have judgment from some of the world’s best legal minds and the weight of international public opinion to back the victims’ continuing quest for justice and an end to impunity,” Karapatan said.

READ: Tribunal finds Marcos, Duterte, Biden ‘guilty’ of war crimes

“For years, the Filipino people have suffered a range of human rights violations as well as violations of international humanitarian law, from political killings, massacres, enforced disappearances and bombings of civilian communities,” it added.

Karapatan the IPT verdict puts on center stage the inutility of domestic redress mechanisms to exact justice and accountability in the Philippines for human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law committed by the Duterte and Marcos Jr. regimes,.

It said it hopes the decision will lead to independent investigations under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council and other competent bodies from the international community.

Juror explains verdict

In a 10-page, the tribunal found “a steady rise in cases of abduction and enforced disappearance perpetrated by GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) forces against activists.”

The decision, signed by an international panel of jurors that included former legal counsel to Nelson Mandela, Prof. Lennox Hinds, was greeted with applause by more than 200 observers in Brussels.

The jurors said they heard demands for justice from expert witnesses, direct victims such as anti-Manila Bay reclamation project Jonila Castro, as well as family members of deceased victims of the US-directed counterinsurgency operations. 

“We found substantial and compelling evidence of widespread extrajudicial killings, civilian massacres, enforced disappearances, indiscriminate bombings, and other gross violations of international humanitarian law,” Séverine de Laveleye, member of the Belgian Parliament and IPT juror, said.

“The atrocities and anti-people policies and actions of Mr. Duterte appear to persist and intensify under the current Marcos Jr. administration,” de Laveleye added.

Elaborating on the basis of the guilty verdict, Laveleye said: “Our decision is founded on the comprehensive examination of the evidence presented. The testimonies of the witnesses, many of whom have shown tremendous courage by coming forward, played a crucial role in shaping our understanding of the systemic abuses perpetrated under these regimes with the tacit support of the US.”

“Ample chance were given to the respond to the charges but have failed to reply or have refused to provide witnesses, and have therefore deemed to have waived their rights,” lead juror Lennox Hinds noted.

“The evidence presented was credible and consistent,” said Hinds, adding the victims shared an inability to seek justice in the Philippines due to neglect of the judicial process and harassment and intimidation by authorities. 

Abduction survivor Jonila Castro at IPT 2024. (Supplied photo)

Survivors elated

Castro, who personally narrated her and Jhed Tamano’s ordeal during the trial, said the Marcos Jr. government has not departed from the US-inspired fascist and anti-people policies of the Duterte regime.

“We want to stop the pattern of killings, abductions, and fake surrenders — we want the government to stop equating activists as combatants, and to surface all missing activists. We demand to hold state forces accountable,” Castro said.

In the Philippines, Eco Dangla, another abduction and torture survivor said he welcomes the IPT’s verdict, saying Marcos violates human rights as worse as Dutere.

“In his two years in office, there have been nine victims of abductions in Central Luzon, including Pangasinan, alone,” Dangla said.

“While five of us have been surfaced (Castro,Tamano, Dangla, and Jak Tiaong), four remain missing,” Dangla pointed out.

Progressive party list coordinators Ma. Elena Pampoza and Elgene Mungcal went missing in July 2022 in Tarlac Province while peasant organizers Norman Ortiz and Lee Sudario were abducted in September 2023 in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) also welcomed the verdict it said affirms its condemnation of the grave human rights abuses under the Marcos government.

“The IPT verdict will counter the disinformation narratives peddled by Marcos in his junket foreign trips that his government is committed to upholding human rights,” BAYAN secretary general Raymond Palatino told Kodao.

“We also assail the role of the Biden government in enabling impunity as it coddles the Marcos government and legitimizes the use of fascist means in suppressing dissent. US military aid is responsible for the brutal attacks of state forces targeting critics, including those who are against the intensified military presence of the US in the country,” he added.

BAYAN said the IPT documents will be discussed among people’s organizations and in communities across the country as part of their campaign to pursue justice and accountability. The IPT verdict will be shared with various institutions such as Congress, courts, local governments, churches, and schools, the group said.# (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Tribunal finds Marcos, Duterte, Biden ‘guilty’ of war crimes

The International People’s Tribunal (IPT) found President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., former president Rodrigo Duterte, the Government of the Philippines as well as President Joseph Biden and the Government of the United States of America (USA) guilty of war crimes in Philippines.

In an hour-long presentation of its verdict in Brussels, Belgium Saturday afternoon (local time), the IPT said the respondents are guilty of willfully killing civilians, intentionally directing attacks against civilians and property, as well as using indiscriminate means and methods of warfare that cause injury or unnecessary suffering.

Aside from causing widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment, the Manila government’s military operations cause displacement of the civilian population, impede humanitarian aid, and commit acts or threats of violence and terror among civilians, the IPT said.

“These acts constitute serious violations of treaty and customary international law applicable in armed conflicts. In view of the foregoing factual and legal findings, the tribunal unanimously finds the defendants…guilty of all crimes and charges, including war crimes and violations of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) alleged in the indictment,” the IPT’s panel of jurors declared.

The Tribunal added that the respondents are guilty of willful killing of New People’s Army (NPA) fighters already rendered hors d’combat (French for “unable to fight”). It also found them guilty of torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment as well as “outrages against personal dignity and humiliating and degrading treatment and desecration of bodies of slain NPA fighters.”

In addition, the Philippine armed forces also “committed abduction and enforced disappearance, the arbitrary arrest and detention and deliberate attacks against civilians merely suspected of having links with a belligerent party, including the filing of trumped-up charges, red-tagging, terrorist labeling and designation, threats and harassments and intimidation,” the Tribunal said.

The jurors said the prosecutors proved with “clear, convincing, credible, consistent and relevant evidence” their allegations, leading to a unanimous verdict.

The Tribunal said it heard oral evidence from victims and families, expert witnesses and resource persons. It also read affidavits, letters, written statements, reports, publications, resolutions, and similar documents, as well as saw photographs and images, watched and heard audio-video recordings in the course of its two-day deliberations that started last Friday.

“[There were] 15 witnesses in the proceedings, eight in person and seven through video depositions, who delivered in clear and coherent manner. Eleven were victims, families or colleagues while four were experts or resources persons who testified on the context, nature and scale of IHL and human rights violations,” it said.

Policy and practice

The IPT cited the massacre of the Fausto family in Negros Island, the massacre of Tumandok tribespeople across Panay Island, and the killing and persecution of the Save Our School tribal school volunteers across Mindanao as examples of the “willful killing of civilians by GRP (Government of Republic of the Philippines) forces.”


  1. Mission reports AFP responsible for Fausto massacre, other killings
  2. Gov’t troops massacre 9 Tumandok in Panay
  3. ‘Chad Booc and 4 others were massacred’ – Save Our Schools Network

It said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) uniformly claimed the victims were NPA fighters and planted evidence to bolster their canard.

The IPT also said that government air strikes and use of heavy ordnance in various places across the country were “indiscriminate.”

Many captured NPA fighters, including those already rendered hors d’combat have been summarily executed as a “matter of practice,” the jurors added, citing the cases of the five recently killed in Bilar, Bohol and of the 22-year old Jevilyn Cullamat


  1. Rep. Cullamat pays tribute to martyred daughter; condemns desecration of remains by gov’t soldiers
  2. NDFP peace consultant Randall Echanis murdered
  3. Group reports continuing surveillance on wounded journalist

“That these happened in various regions has rendered this as a matter of policy for state armed forces…The scale and frequency of these practices indicate they were deliberate and undertaken as a matter of policy by the GRP,” the jurors said.

The Tribunal also found the defendants guilty of “sustained nationwide attacks against individuals and organizations led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict through red-tagging campaigns and terrorist proscription.

Victims of such vilification campaigns often end up dead like NDFP peace consultant and peasant leader Randall Echanis, or permanently disabled such as paralegal and community journalist Beandon Lee, the jurors said.

The jurors also noted that there has been a steady rise of abduction and enforced disappearance under Marcos Jr. and his government, such as in the case of Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano, as well as Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil de Jesus last year.

The witnesses gave “astoundingly credible detail” of the systematic nature of the abductions,” the Tribunal said.

Witnesses to include former Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat whose daughter, slain NPA fighter Juvilyn, was desecrated by government soldiers. (IPT photo)

“The lack of genuine investigations into these cases and the impunity that characterize these cases all point to to the GRP as the author,” it said.

The Philippine government could not rely on its national laws to violate IHL and human rights, it said, also noting the lack of genuine police investigations or reports of violations, “even passing the blame on the victims.”

US equally guilty

The Tribunal said Biden and the US government are similarly guilty of the said war crimes and human rights violations.

It said the US places large resources at Manila government’s disposal, including USD1.14 billion worth of military equipment.

Presidents Marcos and Biden at the White House in 2023. (Malacanang photo)

The US is also building military facilities across the country and sends thousands of troops to train the AFP and participate in war games called the Balikatan, the Tribunal noted.

It added that the Philippine counter-insurgency strategy is adopted from US doctrine.

“The US is responsible for directing, training and operating the GRP…[playing an] indispensible role in the atrocities,” he tribunal said.

International jurors and prosecutors

IPT 2024 was presided by a panel of international jurors of lawyers, parliamentarians, professors, and a Bishop.

Julen Arzuaga Gumuzio is a Basque politician, writer and lawyer, member of the Euskal Herria Bildu coalition in the Basque Parliament since 2012. He is part of the European Association of Democratic Lawyers.

Lennox Hinds is founder of the National Conference of Black Lawyers and former counsel for the African National Congress. He currently teaches in the Criminal Justice Program at Rutgers University.

Suzanne Adely is a founder of the Middle East, North Africa Labor Solidarity Network in the United States. She is a long-time member of Al-Awda-NY, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Defend the Egyptian Revolution Committee of New York.

Joris Vercammen is a Belgian cleric and archbishop of the Old Catholic Church, active in the Netherlands. Vercammen was elected to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in 2006.

Séverine de Laveleye is a Belgian politician active for Ecolo. In 2018 she was elected as a municipal councilor of Vorst for Ecolo and was elected as as a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives in 2019.

The prosecutors meanwhile were Belgian human rights lawyer Jan Fermon and his German colleagueRoland Meister.

The jurors said copies of their verdict shall be sent to the Philippine Embassy in Brussels, the US Embassy in Brussels, the European External Action Service, the European Parliament, the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, the UN High Commission on Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent, the UN Secretary General, and the Permanent People’s Tribunal. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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)