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Philippine Alliance of
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The Dawn of Reckoning

 Statement on the ICC’s  Preliminary Examination of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte on EJK

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) welcomes the announcement of the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor that it had begun an initial inquiry into allegations against President Rodrigo Duterte that he is directly responsible for over thousands of extrajudicial killings under his war on drugs which may constitute as crimes against humanity.

It provides a glimmer of hope to the families of victims at a time when the public is at a loss and when rule of law seems inexistent. For the victims to be heard is more than a consolation, it shows that they are not alone.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is considered a court of last resort, not a substitute for national courts. The primary duty to investigate serious human rights violations and bring those responsible to account still rests on the state. However, the ICC may assume jurisdiction when a state is unable or unwilling to carry out its obligations.

The Philippines became bound by the ICC upon its accession to the treaty in 2011. President Duterte established a permission structure for mass murder by conditioning the police to become violent by ordering them to do whatever it takes and guaranteeing them protection from prosecution. He also encouraged the public to participate in the killings and defined a section of Philippine society worthy of elimination through sustained public kill rhetorics and statements dehumanizing drug dependents. The Philippine president is directly responsible for institutionalizing impunity and unleashing a nationwide death squad epidemic. Threatening to withdraw from the ICC and now discrediting the preliminary examination as a “waste of the court’s time and resources” reveals the government’s persistence to deny these atrocities and confirms its unwillingness and inability to act on its own through affirmative action to investigate and prosecute perpetrators.

While the conduct of the preliminary examination of the ICC is merely a prelude to a possible investigation, the determination whether the killings in the Philippines warrants the court’s jurisdiction is crucial in bringing those responsible for these atrocities to justice in the future. PAHRA is confident that there is more than sufficient grounds to avow crimes against humanity, regards this commendable move by the body as the dawn of reckoning for President Duterte and all those who are complicit in the extra-judicial killings of thousands of Filipinos.

We therefore ask the ICC prosecutor that families of victims of the extra-judicial killings are given the opportunity to share their stories in every stage of the process not just to help provide the court an accurate view of the situation but also to help them overcome fear and despair. Achieving justice also means empowering the victims.

We view this positive step as a building block toward the achievement of the international tribunal’s ultimate goals to end impunity and make justice universally available.