Press Release
June 28, 2022

De Lima welcomes resumption of ICC investigation on Duterte's drug war

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima welcomed 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 on the killings and other alleged rights abuses under the Duterte administration.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said it is clear that the present government, including its Department of Justice (DOJ), has not conducted any meaningful investigation of the extra-judicial killings committed by state security forces and state agents in the course of Duterte's murderous war on drugs.

"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," she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1271 released yesterday.

"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," she added.

The OTP filed a motion asking for the lifting of the deferment investigation into the drug war killings and those allegedly carried out by the Davao Death Squad (DDS) when Duterte was Mayor of Davao City.

"The prosecution requests the chamber to authorize the resumption of the Court's investigation in the Situation in the Philippines, notwithstanding the deferral request," ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said in a request to the pre-trial chamber in The Hague last June 24.

"After a careful and thorough review of all the information provided by the Philippines, as well as other information available publicly... I have concluded that the deferral requested by the Philippines is not warranted, and that the investigation should resume as quickly as possible," Khan said.

Reportedly, ICC suspended its investigation into Duterte's drug war in November last year at Philippines' request, with government officials citing their own investigations into the killings.

De Lima said Duterte's officials should have known that the ICC Prosecutor "is not and cannot be deluded," saying the latter is sharp and incisive enough to know that the purported DOJ investigation fell 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," De Lima said.

"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," she added.

Additionally, De Lima also welcomed 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.

"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,'" said De Lima.

It can be recalled that De Lima was the very first to sound the alarm on EJKs being committed in the guise of Duterte's drug war, via her privilege speeches and Proposed Senate Resolution No. 9, directing the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights to investigate the rampant summary executions of suspected drug offenders, which she filed last July 2016.

The lady Senator from Bicol also submitted a communication to the Office of the Special Prosecutor of the ICC last October 2017 to complement the communications submitted by the late Atty. Jude Sabio, and former lawmakers Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV and Gary Alejano relative to Duterte's drug war.

This 18th Congress, De Lima reintroduced a measure, logged as Senate Bill No. 371, seeking to define and criminalize acts that constitute extrajudicial killings and ensure accountability for said crimes.

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