By Herbert Vego
YESTERDAY (July 18), the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, Netherlands, was expected to decide on the appeal of the Philippine government for reconsideration of the decision to proceed with its investigation of crimes against humanity during the incumbency of Rodrigo Duterte as mayor of Davao City and later as president of the Philippines.
My guess is that it would proceed, taking a hint from no less than Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, who had filed the appeal on behalf of the government. I say so because Guevarra himself recently waxed pessimistic about the chances of ICC giving in.
You see, the ICC had postponed the investigation based on a benefit of the doubt over the sincerity of the Philippine government to prosecute suspects in the torture and genocide of thousands of Filipino citizens in the name of the “war on drugs”.
Of course, it could not be done because the present government under Pres. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos had vowed not to cooperate, using the alibi of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla that ICC had lost jurisdiction because former Pres. Duterte had withdrawn our membership with the ICC. The withdrawal took effect in March 2019.
It’s akin to a team quitting a basketball game after sensing an impending loss.
It’s not such an easy escape, though. In the opinion of former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the President could not just withdraw from the ICC because, being a treaty, it could only be repealed with the approval of Congress.
A provision in the treaty, according to ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan, confirms the international court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed prior to a member country’s withdrawal.
Khan said that Duterte and other top government officials appear to have encouraged and condoned the killings.
This writer disagrees with the notion that it would be very embarrassing for Marcos to welcome a full-blown ICC probe implicating his predecessor over thousands of cases of torture, harassments and killings perpetrated by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
If his unspoken reason is to protect Duterte from the ICC, its implication is that the former President is afraid of being dragged into the probe. It could be more embarrassing! The world would look down on us as a pariah, dictatorial state, hence unworthy of foreign investments.
Has Marcos forgotten that he was one of the 17 senators who ratified Philippine membership with the ICC (Senate Resolution No. 546) in 2011? Under the treaty, which is also known as the Rome Statute, the ICC could step in when countries are unwilling or unable to dispense justice for the core crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or crimes of aggression.
The only way for Duterte and his gang to prove themselves innocent – if they really are – is to face the ICC and the prosecution witnesses, two of whom used to be his police henchmen, namely Arturo Lascañas and Edgar Matobato.
By the way, we saw another Bato on TV, saying he is “not afraid.”
‘LIVE YOUR DREAM’
HERE’S good news to women and girls who are eligible to join the “Live Your Dream Awards” of the Soroptimist International of the Americas. Eligible applicants may submit their application forms from August 1 to November 15, 2023.
The finalist has the potential to receive up to $10,000 to help offset tuition costs, purchase books, get transportation, or find reliable childcare so she can worry less about how to pay her bills and focus on reaching her dreams.
You are eligible to apply if you are a woman who provides the primary financial support for yourself and your dependents who may include children, spouse, partner, siblings and/or parents; has financial need; is enrolled in or has been accepted to a vocational/skills training program or an undergraduate degree program; motivated to achieve your education and career goals; resides in one of the Soroptimist International of the Americas’ member countries, including the Philippines; has not previously received a Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity or Live Your Dream Award; does not have a graduate degree; is not a Soroptimist member or employee of Soroptimist International of the Americas, or immediate family of either.
The application is open from August 1 to November 15 every year for women and girls. If interested, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Indicate your complete name.