Drug war critics to keep updating ICC
MANILA, Philippines — Although the Philippines has withdrawn its membership from the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court (ICC), the family of slain drug suspect Djastin “DJ” Lopez will continue to provide the tribunal, as well as the Office of the Ombudsman, with details on the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
“Despite threats and dissuasion against cooperating with the ICC, Normita Lopez (Djastin’s mother), (the support group) Rise Up, and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) will continue to provide the international court with relevant information about the Philippine war on drugs, in assertion of our democratic rights and for a chance of survival in the era of Rodrigo Duterte,” the NUPL said in a statement.
The NUPL-National Capital Region, counsel for the Lopez family, disclosed to the media a letter dated April 4 from Mark Dillon, head of the information and evidence unit of the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor, that acknowledged a communication filed last year accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of crimes against humanity committed in the course of the government antidrug operation.
Dillon said the communication on Lopez’s alleged extrajudicial killing had been subsumed with the ICC’s ongoing preliminary examination on the earlier complaints against the President and other Philippine officials.
“It appears that your communication relates to a situation already under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor. Accordingly, your communication will be analyzed in this context, with the assistance of other related communications and other available information,” Dillon said, adding that “analysis will be carried out as expeditiously as possible.”
Palace fires back
Reacting to Dillon’s letter, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Friday slammed the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor for still pursuing a preliminary examination of the case filed against the President “despite the country signifying that the Philippines never became part of its jurisdiction.”
“[I]t becomes apparent that this institution is indeed bent on interfering with the sovereignty of our Republic even if it means disregarding the Rome Statute, the very instrument which created it,” Panelo said.
“With the biased and preconceived actions of the ICC, we cannot blame the Filipino people for thinking that it has taken a politically motivated obnoxious path aimed at maligning not just this administration but the very Republic of the Philippines,” the Palace official added.
“Legal realities dictate that we never became part of the jurisdiction of the ICC, thus revealing that the present actions of the ICC are not only baseless but tainted with political motivation,” Panelo said.
Manila police operation
Last year, the NUPL submitted cases related to the President’s antidrug campaign to the ICC, including the killing in 2017 of Lopez, the 23-year-old epileptic, who was shot by the police in Tondo, Manila.
Lopez’s mother joined the NUPL and the support group Rise Up for Life and for Rights in forwarding the communication to the ICC in August 2018.
Two days ago, the Ombudsman ordered the filing of murder charges against Police Staff Sergeant Gerry Geñalope for killing Lopez, a decision that Panelo welcomed.
But NUPL-NCR secretary general Kristina Conti said the Ombudsman’s order to indict only Geñalope would strengthen the argument that the Philippine courts were “unwilling and unable to prosecute the killings.”
Said Conti: “Only low-ranking policemen—three in Kian [delos Santos’] case and now one in DJ’s—are being held liable for the killings that run into the thousands.”
“The convictions and even the prosecutions are so miniscule that taken together, they do not constitute an effective accountability mechanism in the Philippines,” she added.
The NUPL said the Ombudsman probe had yet to determine whether there really was a legitimate police operation, what violations were committed, if any, and who the personalities involved were.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.