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  • Gene Alcantara

Duterte death wish: ICCt to put him on trial

RODRIGO Roa Duterte must have a death wish considering the way he keeps insulting the very people who may one day soon have the power eventually over his fate. Witness him threatening to slap the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICCt).

And that short lady there, the black, announcing investigation — if I see you, I will slap you. Who are you to threaten me?” Duterte recently threatened Ms Fatou Bensouda, the Gambian lawyer and international criminal law prosecutor who heads the Prosecutor’s office. If he thought he would scare away the brave and courageous Ms Bensouda from continuing to examine him and the complaints against him, he had better think again. His previous threat to arrest Ms Bensouda has fallen on deaf ears. In March 2018 in a speech to the military HQ in Mindanao, he said that the ICCt lawyers who would dare to come to the Philippines should be thrown to man-eating crocodiles. His appalling pronouncements, however scary, had of course not deterred such valiant people from challenging his atrocious behaviour. The former United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) High Commissioner and Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, a cousin of King Abdullah II of Jordan, himself was driven to recommend that Duterte should undergo a psychiatric test. The Prince had been a high level vocal critic of Duterte’s campaign on illegal drugs on the international human rights stage. If nothing else he may have strengthened the resolve of Ms Bensouda and others to pursue him to conclusion, after his latest racist and violent outburst against the Chief Prosecutor. Nothing would provide the prosecution and her team greater satisfaction than seeing him seated in front of 3 judges, with an international audience, many from the Philippines, to hear and be judged on his litany of crimes against humanity, ranging from outright murder of helpless Filipinos including children, to rapes of helpless Filipinas including children. The ICCt defines crimes against humanity as acts "committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack". Among the 16 recognised individual crimes under this category are: Murder, Rape, Sexual Violence, Persecution, Enforced disappearance of persons and Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty. Of course once the trial against him begins, Duterte would be entitled to defend himself. But knowing his abhorrence of any one foreign (apart from his Chinese friends), he will no doubt fall back on his lawyer mates, spokesperson/spindoctor Sal Panelo possibly or the dreadful Solicitor General Jose Calida, the personal persecutor general of Senator Antonio Trillanes III for daring to criticise Duterte. Who knows he may even recycle and resurrect his former much-maligned spokesperson/spindoctor Harry Roque who turned full circle in favour of the dictator and became anti-human rights himself. Unless of course these 3 lawyers themselves get included in the roster of the accused in the crimes against humanity cases. Hiding behind the coattails of his Chinese benefactors will not help Duterte in the end. Nothing prevented Saddam Hussein's execution by hanging by the Iraqi High Tribunal (the Iraqi version of the ICCt), and nothing prevented Milosevic from being convicted with 90 colleagues by the war crimes tribunal after some thousands of days of trial in the Hague. In order to avoid ICCt prosecution, Mr Duterte has actually ordered that the Philippines be withdrawn from being a state member of the ICCt back on 19th March 2017. Under prevailing ICCt rules, the withdrawal takes effect 1 year after the notice. But oops one thing Mr Duterte and his coterie of advisers have not realized in their haste to bolt from the ICC clutches is that -- “Withdrawing from the Rome Statute is a sovereign decision, which is subject to the provisions of article 127 of that Statute. A withdrawal becomes effective one year after the deposit of notice of withdrawal to the United Nations Secretary-General. A withdrawal has no impact on on-going proceedings or any matter which was already under consideration by the Court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective; nor on the status of any judge already serving at the Court.” Recently in September 2018, while speaking to government officials at Malacanang palace and challenging them to remove him from power if they were not satisfied with his leadership, he admitted his responsibility for extrajudicial killings. Mr Duterte said, “What are your sins? Ako? Sabi ko nga sa military, ano kasalanan ko? Nagnakaw ba ako diyan ni piso? Did I prosecute somebody na pinakulong ko? Ang kasalanan ko lang ‘yung mga extrajudicial killing.” [Translation: “Me? I said to the military, what did I do wrong? Did I steal even one peso? Did I prosecute somebody who got jailed by me? My only sin are the extrajudicial killings.”] [Author’s note: Duterte persecuted Senator Leila de Lima for daring to investigate the Davao Death Squad when he was the mayor, and she is still languishing in prison under false drugs charges]. One thing is clear. Mr Duterte with his colostomy piss-bag, however much bravado he shows by shooting off his dirty mouth, is quaking in his boots as he contemplates the humiliation in his dotage and illness of being hauled in front of an international tribunal to be tried for crimes against humanity, the victims of which he simply dismissed as nothing but "carcasses". Yes, he must be quaking in his boots. And soon at least 11 of his accomplices in crimes against humanity will also be quaking in their crocodile boots. The likes of General Bato dela Rosa who supervised apparently not just the implementation of the “war on drugs” and its resultant extra judicial killings, but was involved with Duterte's Davao Death Squad when he was Mayor of Davao.

The others, mainly the corrupt hangers on and cheerleaders, the vultures and the hyenas circling around and nipping at the carcass of the Philippine Treasury will find their comeuppance when a new administration rises from the ashes of the Duterte regime. It might take time but I am confident that with the right lawmakers and unbiased prosecutors they will be held to account for their shameless plunder of various departmental budgets. There will hopefully be reparations from personal pockets of the Dutertes and their cohorts to the families of the estimated 30,000 victims of extrajudicial executions and related crimes. There will be this and that action. Oh, but I am running ahead of myself. The ICCt has given an initial assessment to determine if the communications it has received about the Philippine situation was sufficiently serious and if it fell within the Court’s jurisdiction – this is Phase 1. Having considered this, they then moved to preliminary examination to consider whether there is sufficient evidence of crimes of sufficient gravity falling within the ICCt’s jurisdiction (Phase 2). They will then look at issues of admissibility and whether there are genuine national proceedings (Phase 3), before the Office of the Prosecutor then considers whether opening an investigation would serve the interests of justice and of the victims (Phase 4). We might yet have to continue to bear with a lengthy wait before the ICCt opens an investigation (hopefully before 19th March 2019), but we are a patient people who wait and pray for justice for the victims of the crimes against humanity and their bereaved families. I shall limit myself for now to contemplating that, as the ICCt case inexorably although slowly progresses, one Rodrigo Roa Duterte, former Mayor of Davao, death wish or not, is now quaking indeed in his boots. ****** For readers who wish to write to the ICCt to push for the case. For those able to write or submit any helpful information to the ICCt, 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: Fax: +31 70 515 8555 Website: You may also wish to send the ICCt 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 -- The original claim was filed at the ICCt Hague in June 2017 by Senator Antonio 'Sonny' Trillanes, and Magdalo Party List Congressman Gary Alejano, with the assistance of Atty. Jude Sabio. Senator Trillanes' term ends in May 2019, while Cong Alejano and Atty Sabio are campaigning to become Senators by then.

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