European Filipinos rally at ICC
Updated: Feb 23
THE HAGUE -- Over 30 Filipinos gathered at the Hague on 30 July 2018 in order to hold a peaceful rally at the International Criminal Court (ICC). They went there to find out more about the workings of the ICC, and to appeal to the ICC Judges to expedite the pending case against the Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The rally at the ICC is significant and historical because it is the first time that Filipinos from across Europe and the USA came together for joint action on a matter of national interest. Representatives from France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Los Angeles, USA were present during the visit and the rally. Before the rally around 20 members of the group visited the ICC to get a briefing from ICC officials on how the international court worked, and of course to get a briefing on the state of play of the complaint against Duterte for crimes against humanity. The group was allocated a guide throughout the visit, and received a full briefing from the Legal Department who answered our questions particularly about the impending case against Duterte. Some of the interesting questions and answers revolved around the following -- 1. Status of the case. At present it is still in the Preliminary Examination stage. No news as to when it would move to the Investigation stage yet. 2. Effect of Philippine withdrawal from ICC. Clearly the withdrawal in March 2018 is seen by many as admission of guilt by Duterte of the charges of crimes against humanity, but the ICC case has not commenced and therefore there is no case to answer. The ICC has until March 2019 to pursue the case. The belief however is that crimes committed while the Philippines was a member could be pursued to conclusion. 3. Who will stand trial? The ICC system is focussed on individuals eg Duterte by himself. As for the others, such as General Bato, Secretary Cayetano etc, there will need to be individual cases filed against them so they could be pursued too. 4. What happens if Duterte dies? ICC hearings always expect the defendant to be present in court. Clearly if Duterde dies, then the case dies as well.
5. What about the witnesses for the prosecution? Once investigation commences, then the ICC will provide full protection (to witnesses on both sides) including extraction. Until the case commences, this will not happen. There is also a Trust Fund to which victims could apply for assistance. 6. Who will decide whether to push to investigation stage? Since the Philippines as a member did not request the investigation, it is up to the United Nations Security Council or the Presiding ICC Judges to make a request. It will probably be impossible to get the Security Council to request the case, particularly since Duterte is "friendly" eg with China. Therefore we are left to write and appeal to the 18 Judges who will decide whether to proceed or not. One of the current Judges is a Filipino, Judge Raul Pangalangan. 7. Will the general public be able to watch Duterte and company's trials, if and when they happen? Yes, anyone can watch the trials in person at the ICC courts in The Hague. Or they may watch on live-stream which is delayed by 30 minutes to protect any witnesses who need to be hidden from view. 8. Where to write to push for the case. For those able to write or submit any helpful information to the ICC, please note that they welcome information on alleged crimes, communications and claims which can be submitted directly to the Office of the Prosecutor: Mail: Information and Evidence Unit, Office of the Prosecutor, Post Office Box 19519, 2500 CM The Hague, The Netherlands Email: email@example.com Fax: +31 70 515 8555 Website: https://www.icc-cpi.int/ You may also wish to send the ICC a Facebook message. This is the fastest way to contribute anything helpful to them, and indeed to ask them to expedite the case against Duterte. Please check out -- https://www.facebook.com/InternationalCriminalCourt/?hc_location=group The original claim was filed at the ICC Hague in June 2017 by Senator Antonio 'Sonny' Trillanes, and Magdalo Party List Congressman Gary Alejano, with the assistance of Atty. Jude Sabio.
In February 2018, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced the launching of the Preliminary Examination into the Philippine situation, and everyone has been waiting to hear of further developments since then. The Office of the Prosecutor is an independent organ of the ICC and the Prosecutor conducts preliminary examinations, investigations and is the only one who can actually bring cases before the Court.
The rally at ICC As the ICC is a court of law, we were not allowed to rally in front of their buildings. They however allowed us to hold our static rally in the ICC open space on the left side of the area. This is where we all congregated, made speeches, sang a few songs and took lots of pictures.
Vange Lara read a letter from the Filipino-American Human Rights Alliance (FAHRA) California to the ICC from the Filipino-Americans and spoke to ABS-CBN. Clara Balaguer was interviewed by ABS-CBN. Gene Alcantara from DAMPi Coalition still has a letter and petition remaining unanswered which was submitted to the ICC in May 2018, which will need to be followed up. Maris Hidalgo and Marcial Baladjay both from Paris, made speeches. It was a great day for the rallyists as they felt that they were not alone in the world in protesting against the continuing impunity and extra judicial killings in the Philippines, and allowed them to bond and network for future activities and information sharing. Copies of "Resibo - Pinoy Ako Blog", a collection of the writings of Jover Laurio against Duterte and his administration were distributed. Danny Buenafe and Jofelle Tesorio of ABS-CBN were at the rally to cover the ground-breaking Filipino event.
The visit itself was coordinated by Vange Lara from the USA, and the rally was organised by Goryu Salbaku of Samahang Magdalo International with assistance from Netherlands colleagues, Alitaptap and the DAMPi Coalition.