Panelo: Latest bid vs Duterte at ICC ‘contrary to standard’ Filipino norm
A supplemental communication by a Church-backed group asking the International Criminal Court (ICC) to admit additional evidence in the crimes against humanity case against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in connection with his war on drugs was “contrary” to Filipinos’ “standard norm and behavior.”
The supplemental communication submitted to the ICC by Rise Up for Life, a Church-backed civil society group, drew the ire again of Malacanang.
Rise Up urged the ICC to investigate alleged massive human rights violations and summary killings in Duterte’s drug war but Malacanang called it a “cheap political propaganda.”
Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said the reports aimed to “embarrass President Duterte while he is busy working outside the country to promote the Philippines.”
“This action is foul to say the least,” Panelo said. He added that it ran “contrary to our standard norm and behavior to be united for our leader.”
In a statement, he dared Rise Up to just file complaints in Philippine courts if it has evidence to back its allegations of extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs.
Rise Up, Panelo said, “should have the decency to honor the memory of those who died and file actual complaints before our courts.”
He added: “Its immediate resort to the ICC, when our courts are able and willing to hear any and all cases in the country, shows that they are using the deaths to pursue its own selfish agenda.”
Panelo made the remarks days after Rise Up asked ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to admit as evidence the official figures on deaths in Philippine police’s anti-drug operations, claiming these were “manipulated” to “shield the perpetrators.”
The group also asked Bensouda to take into account the deaths of 74 minors in police operations and the United Nations Human Rights Council’s resolution seeking a probe into the drug war.
Panelo said the supplemental communication was “doomed from the very start,” adding that Rise Up’s “existence is bound by their sheer hatred and common despise” against Duterte.
“This group of noisy anti-Duterte critics and detractors is known for resorting to political theatrics and gimmickry,” said Panelo.
Rise Up was “exploiting the grief and loss of widows and mothers whose husband or children had been neutralized by the anti-narcotics campaign,” said Panelo, using the word neutralize as a euphemism for kill, as the practice of the military and police.
He said he also doubted Rise Up’s motives, accusing the group of citing figures that “have no factual basis.” “They know the same allegations will not hold up in court,” Panelo said.
“They are trying to blemish the legitimate operations of our law enforcement personnel, who were only forced to protect themselves in the performance of their duty,” Panelo said, echoing police reports on killings as necessary because the targets of operations fought back, or “nanlaban.”
Panelo said Filipinos were “intelligent and discerning” enough to be “fooled by this cheap political propaganda.”
But he said he knew Filipinos would continue to “solidly support” Duterte “for the remainder of his term.”
He added that the loss of lives in police anti-drug operations “pains” Duterte.
“We stress that the loss of any life is a heavy toll that no country should pay for its preservation of its general welfare,” he said.
“It pains him when any Filipino is slain under whatever circumstance,” Panelo said, referring to his boss. Duterte had boasted he was willing to rot in jail just to protect the country from the drug menace and would take care of police involved in anti-drug operations that lead to killings of suspects./TSB