THE International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a stern reminder to the Philippine government that extrajudicial killings like the reported drug-related murders under President Rodrigo Duterte’s rule may fall under its jurisdiction.
In a statement, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda pointed out that the Philippines is a state party to the ICC and therefore, the court has jurisdiction over “genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes” committed in the country.
It noted that this has been the case since November 1, 2011, when the statute entered into force in the Philippines.
Bensouda said his office is aware of reports of the widespread drug-related deaths in the country – over 3,000 since Duterte took office in June – and will continue to closely monitor developments.
“I am deeply concerned about these alleged killings and the fact that public statements of high officials of the Republic of the Philippines seem to condone such killings and further seem to encourage state forces and civilians alike to continue targeting these individuals with lethal force,” he said.
“Let me be clear,” he added, “any person in the Philippines who incites or engages in acts of mass violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing, in any other manner, to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution before the Court.”
He went on to say that his office will in the coming weeks record any instance of incitement or resort to violence in the Philippines with a view to assessing whether or not to open investigations.
Bensouda also noted that his office conducts and has conducted independent examinations and investigations, as well as prosecutions, in crimes of genocide and the like in many other jurisdictions.
These include countries like Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic; Kenya; Libya; Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Georgia.
Philippines’ current government under Duterte is facing international heat for its violent war on drugs.
World leaders, global rights advocates and leaders of international groupings like the United Nations and European Union have expressed concern on numerous occasions but the tough-talking leader of the Southeast Asian nation refused to pay heed.
Instead, Duterte has lashed out at his detractors, oftentimes using harsh words, saying he would not kowtow to the demands of foreigners.
Recently, the politician made headlines when he told U.S. President Barack Obama to “go to hell”, a remark he issued just days after he called the leader of the world superpower a “son of a bitch”.
But despite his many clashes with world leaders and controversial pivot away from Washington to China, Duterte has received sterling reviews from his countrymen for his performance as president in the first 100 days in office.
The recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey measuring public satisfaction put support for the intrepid leader at an average of +64 percent, a ranking classified as “very good”.
In a breakdown of the survey, an impressive three quarters or 76 percent of voting-age Filipinos declared themselves satisfied with Duterte’s work so far.
Only one tenth or 11 percent said they were dissatisfied, while 13 percent said they were still undecided.
According to Inquirer, the results of the survey conducted between Sept 24 and 27 were released through BusinessWorld, which partners with SWS.
Duterte’s “very good” score puts him above many of his predecessors, and second highest of all the presidents who served after the EDSA revolution in 1986.
Four other presidents have received the same “very good” rating during their respective terms: Benigno Aquino III at +60 percent; Joseph Estrada also at +60 percent, and Corazon Aquino at +53 percent. Only Fidel Ramos received a higher net rating than Duterte, at +66 percent.
Gloria Arroyo, who claimed power after Estrada was ousted in 2001, only received a “moderate” satisfaction rating of +24 percent.