Duterte's EJK remark supports cases at Int'l Criminal Court – Trillanes

MANILA, Philippines – Human rights groups and opposition lawmakers on Friday, September 28, said President Rodrigo Duterte's "admission" of extrajudicial killings can be used as evidence to support the complaints filed against him before the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

In a media briefing on Friday, September 28, opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said that Duterte only hastened the probe against him before the international tribunal. (READ: Yes, Int'l Criminal Court can prosecute Duterte for killing spree)

"That admission will be taken seriously by the International Criminal Court. We would like to take this opportunity to call on the ICC to expedite the investigation of crimes against humanity committed by Mr Duterte to the Filipino people," Trillanes said.

On Thursday, September 27, Duterte appeared to admit to extrajudicial killings while addressing new and veteran civil servants in Malacañang. Palace officials, however, later clarified that such remarks should not be taken seriously, since Duterte was known to be "playful" in his choice of words.

Trillanes disagreed and said Duterte's remarks in his unguarded moments were "bits and pieces of truth." The senator said they will submit to the ICC a transcript and a copy of Duterte's speech. (READ: International Criminal Court issue will mark Duterte presidency)

Last year, Trillanes and Magdalo Representative  Gary Alejano filed before the ICC a supplemental complaint against Duterte over killings related to the administration's war on drugs. It affirmed the allegations of Filipino lawyer Jude Sabio in his complaint filed on April 24 in the Hague, Netherlands. (READ: Complaint vs Duterte filed before Int'l Criminal Court)

Speed up probe

Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the ICC to speed up its preliminary examination of complaints filed against the controversial Philippine leader, in light of Duterte's statement.

"This admission should erase any doubt about the culpability of the President. It is time for Duterte to answer for what may amount to crimes against humanity, especially because the killings continue to happen on a daily basis, more than two years since the brutal campaign started the day Duterte took office on June 30, 2016," HRW said in a statement.

Lawmakers and human rights groups found Duterte's remarks to be enough evidence for the ICC to establish jurisdiction over the thousands of killings linked to the administration's campaign against illegal drugs.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is conducting a preliminary examination into Duterte's drug war, where she will try to establish jurisdiction over the alleged crimes. 

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros said that Duterte's EJK remark "establishes his clear and direct accountability for the killings."

"It is a public admission of guilt. It completely demolishes the argument peddled by his apologists that while there are EJK cases under his term, they were carried out by rogue police personnel without the President's express orders and approval," Hontiveros said.

Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV for his part, said, "Panahon nang harapin ang katotohanan sa war on drugs at iwasto ang kultura ng karahasan at patayan na bumabalot sa ating bayan (It's high time to face the truth about the war on drugs and to correct the sulture of violence and killings that surround our nation)."

Duterte ordered the withdrawal of the Philippines from the ICC, but this move the has been questioned before the Supreme Court. 

The International Peoples' Tribunal in Belgium recently handed down a guilty verdict on Duterte for crimes against humanity over the alleged "gross and systematic violations of human rights." This will be transmitted to the ICC as well.

Police have said that at least 3,967 drug personalities have been killed in legitimate operations while at least 16,355 deaths are still under investigation, for a total of 20,322 drug-related deaths since the brutal campaign began. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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