OPINION: SolGen actions giving ICC reason to exercise jurisdiction over PH EJKs

Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at Mar 01 2019 04:47 PM

One of the reasons that will make the International Criminal Court (ICC) decide to exercise jurisdiction over alleged extra-judicial killings (EJKs) committed under the Duterte administration is when they see that the government is “unable or unwilling” to prosecute the crimes. It is called the principle of complementarity.

The communications filed at the ICC against Duterte and police officials alleged to be responsible for the over 5,000 killed during anti-drug operations is in the Examination stage. In her annual report last December, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said her office has received a total of 52 communications related to extrajudicial killings in the Philippines since she started the preliminary examination on Feb. 8, 2018. 

She said her office will “ continue to engage with a variety of reliable sources and relevant stakeholders on all matters relevant to the preliminary examination of the situation in the Philippines.”

Contrary to the disinformation being propagated by Malacañang, the process will continue even if the withdrawal by the Philippines from the ICC becomes effective on March 17.

If Bensouda sees that the Duterte government is “unable or unwilling” to prosecute the killings, she will request the ICC to open an investigation. The next steps are investigators will collect evidence on the crimes, the judges will order tracing and freezing of assets, the accused is arrested.

There will be trial, and victims will apply to participate in the proceedings.

It’s a long process but once the ICC assumes jurisdiction, it would really make life difficult for Duterte and the officials involved in the killings.

Solicitor General (SolGen) Calida seems to be facilitating ICC proceeding to preliminary investigation.

A statement from Center for International Law, which is representing families of the victims of the drug war in 28 barangays in San Andres Bukid, yesterday revealed the frustration over the obstacles being put up by the government for those who are seeking justice for the victims of the government anti-drug war.
 
Centerlaw President Joel Butuyan specified the Office of the Solicitor General. He said “The Solicitor General is inviting the ICC to assume jurisdiction in investigating the Extra-Judicial Killings in the Philippines by refusing to release the documents that were ordered by the Supreme Court in a case questioning the government’s ongoing drug war.

Butuyan said Centerlaw filed in the Supreme Court on Wednesday a motion complaining that the Solicitor General has refused to give Centerlaw copies of documents notwithstanding a final order from the Supreme Court.
 
Recall that in October 2017, families of the victims of the drug war in 28 barangays in San Andres Bukid, Manila led by Sister Ma. Juanita Daño of the Religious of the Good Shepherd, and Francisco Blanco, Jr., brother of an alleged “tokhang” victim, filed a petition which prays that the Supreme Court issue to surviving families and the community a writ of amparo protecting their life, liberty and security amidst the heightened drug war of the President. They cited 35 “drug-related deaths in the area” spanning 13 months.

Following the oral argument on the Daño Petition, the SC ordered the government to submit the documents on the killings. While the Office of the Solicitor General, as counsel of the government, submitted the documents to the Supreme Court En Banc, it did not furnish copies of the subject documents to the other parties to the case, including the Petitioners in the Daño Petition and Centerlaw as their counsel. 

This is in violation of the Rules of Court that requires that pleadings and papers must be served on the parties affected.

Centerlaw also emphasized that the continued refusal by the Respondents, as represented by the Solicitor General, to furnish the Petitioners the documents and information violates the Petitioners’ elemental right to due process as well as the “right of the people to information on matters of public concern” and the government’s “full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest” as enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution.
 
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Another case that will give reason to investigate Duterte and his officials for “crimes against humanity” will be the continued incarceration of Sen. Leila de Lima on trumped up drug trafficking charges.

Last Sunday on the commemoration of her second year in detention, she delivered a moving speech in a Mass held at the PNP Custodial Center.

She spoke of how members of officials, members of the judiciary have taken the side of convenience and plays blind to the injustices being committed by Duterte.

But there are a few exceptions. She singled out retired Police General Benjamin Magalong.

She said in the trial of the trumped-up charge against her, the prosecution presented as its first witness Magalong.

“When asked by my counsel during the cross-examination last Friday, if in the course of his years of gathering info, intel or otherwise, about the proliferation of illegal drug trade, particularly in Bilibid, there was anything or any info about my alleged involvement therein, Gen. Magalong pointedly responded, there was none."

De Lima said. “He simply spoke the truth.”

De Lima further said: “But, how many more Magalongs would there be among the long line of prosecution witnesses? Would those Bilibid convicts who have been illegally admitted as State witnesses, and others, be expected to do some truth-telling? I doubt it. 
“I want to be optimistic, but I am not blind. I can see what is happening in the country at large, as clearly as I can see what is happening in my own cases."

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Email: ellentordesillas@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.