Palace slams verdict of int’l people’s court

/ 05:32 AM September 21, 2018

Malacañang on Thursday scoffed at the finding of the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) that President Duterte was guilty of human rights violations for the thousands of killings in his brutal war on drugs, persecution of political opponents and enforcement of military rule in Mindanao.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque called the ruling a “sham decision” that had “no official sanction.”


A former human rights lawyer, Roque questioned the legitimacy of the tribunal and the credibility of its members who heard and decided the complaints against Mr. Duterte.

“I’m in this field of law, I do not know who sat there. They appear to be a propaganda body of the international Left,” he told reporters.


“Therefore we set it aside as being a useless piece of propaganda against the government,” he said.


The organizers

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Ibon International and International Coalition of Human Rights in the Philippines convened the IPT in Brussels, Belgium, to hear complaints of human rights violations against Mr. Duterte.

Complaints of human rights violations were also brought against US President Donald Trump, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, transnational corporations and foreign banks.

The complainants were the left-leaning groups Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Anakbayan, Migrante, Kadamay, Karapatan, Hustisya, Desaparecidos, Selda, Sandugo and Rise Up for Life and for Rights.

A panel of jurors composed of eight human rights lawyers and activists sat on Sept. 18 and 19 to hear the complaints.


War on drugs

The panel was headed by Azadeh N. Shahshahani, a prominent human rights lawyer and advocate based in Atlanta, Georgia.

The complainants accused Duterte of gross violations of human rights, including thousands of extrajudicial killings in his take-no-prisoners  crackdown on illegal drugs.

The Philippine National Police has acknowledged the killings of more than 4,500 people in the war on drugs, but insisted the victims resisted arrest.

Mass killings

Rights groups, however, have claimed the victims number about 12,000, and that the PNP set up crime scenes to fake encounters.

The complainants also accused the President of mass killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, political persecution, attacks on the press and other abuses in the enforcement of martial law in Mindanao.

They also accused Duterte of violating economic, social and cultural rights of laborers, peasants, women and migrants, and violating international humanitarian law with the military’s attacks on schools and communities, terrorist labeling and environmental degradation.

Fox a witness

The complainants presented 31 witnesses, including Australian missionary Patricia Fox, who is appealing a government order for her deportation for taking part in human rights activities in the Philippines.

They also presented documentary evidence, including pictures, videos, special reports, expert analyses and summaries.

The panel found President Duterte guilty. Trump and the other accused were found guilty for supporting the Philippine leader.

Its verdict will be forwarded to the International Criminal Court (ICC), European Parliament and United Nations Human Rights Council.

President Duterte and 11 of his officials are accused of crimes against humanity in the ICC over the thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs.

In finding the President guilty, the IPT panel cited his praise for military violence and disdain for human rights, including his likening himself to Adolf Hitler in his desire to “slaughter” drug users.

The tribunal said that being elected by the Filipinos, Mr. Duterte had a “moral obligation toward the people.”

Instead, it added, he pursued his predecessors’ policies that violated the rights of the people and “created new forms of attack and intensified the old ones.” —WITH A REPORT FROM BONG S. SARMIENTO

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