Press Release
June 27, 2022

Dispatch from Crame No. 1,271:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the resumption of the ICC investigation


I welcome with great relief and optimism the decision of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to request the latter to lift the suspension on the preliminary investigation of the Philippine situation.

It is clear that the Duterte government, including its Department of Justice, has not conducted any meaningful investigation of the extra-judicial killings committed by state security forces and state agents in the course of the war on drugs. It is also clear that the OTP has seen through the ruse that the so-called DOJ investigation is, calling it a mere desk investigation that has not amounted to anything substantial to unearth the principals behind the Duterte government's EJK policy.

Don't these Duterte officials - the acting Presidential Spokesperson and the Justice Secretary - get it? The ICC Chief Prosecutor is not and cannot be deluded. He is sharp and incisive enough to note that the purported DOJ investigation manifestly falls short of the ICC's standards and expectations. Not only does said probe cover a miniscule fraction - only 52 - of the thousands of suspected EJK cases and involving only "low-level" perpetrators, there is also no showing that the very role or conduct of the "PNP and government leadership" is being seriously looked into.

The ICC's consistent investigative policy is to focus on "persons bearing the greatest responsibility" for these crimes against humanity. And such a tack is not at all mirrored in the DOJ's investigation as it has clearly spared the top perpetrators, and we all know who is the chief perpetrator with the biggest culpability - one whose publicly declared "Kill, kill, kill" inducements or incitements are well-documented. And one whom the current government probers cannot afford to implicate.

The DOJ investigation is nothing but window-dressing designed to divert the focus of international human rights bodies and to fake compliance with international human rights standards. This fakery simply did not fool the prosecutor of the ICC Chief Prosecutor.

I also welcome the statement of the incoming National Security Adviser, Dr. Clarita Carlos, that the Philippine government should allow the ICC investigation to be undertaken and to let a team of scholars accompany them. I completely agree with her that the ICC probers should be given the necessary leeway to investigate and gather data on the drug war EJKs, and that the Philippine government should be confronting the EJK issue and the ICC investigation head-on.

Indeed, the adoption of Dr. Carlos' position by the next administration will only demonstrate to the world that the incoming Philippine government will value human rights more than its predecessor. As she said: "human rights is primary" and that "the first protection is the protection of the individual." This position is a breath of fresh air amidst the continuing intransigence of the Duterte administration towards the ICC even as it takes its last gasps in office. ###

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