By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA – Senate President Vicente Sotto III dismissed a report from the International Criminal Court (ICC) concerning the Duterte administration’s alleged crimes against humanity in government’s ongoing drug war, saying that ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s recent findings are what (she) believes but “some believe otherwise.”
Even Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson, a former national police chief, said that Bensouda’s report for now “may only be good as a press release and nothing more.”
Under the ICC statute, Lacson said, “reasonable grounds to believe are considered as an ‘unreasonably unclear evidentiary threshold’.”
He noted that to get the ICC’s permission to proceed with her investigation, Bensouda must prove that the criminal justice system in the Philippines was not functioning, “or at least has fallen short in prosecuting law enforcement agents who have allegedly committed the crimes against humanity in relation to the bloody drug war initiated by the President.”
In his report, Bensouda pointed out there is a “reasonable basis to believe” that (President Rodrigo Duterte) and his subordinates committed crimes against humanity in the bloody war on drugs and critics of the Duterte administration believe the president and his officials could soon be made to answer for the thousands who were murdered in so-called extrajudicial killings.
“The time for reckoning is near for Mr. Duterte, his cohorts, and enablers,” former opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said.
Trillanes, one of the former Davao City mayor’s most strident critics, said that “Duterte may try to ignore the jurisdiction of ICC over him, but deep inside he knows that he cannot get away from this one. Having profiled Duterte, I am sure he is trembling in fear.”
But pro-Duterte supporters claim that the ICC findings are just a means being propagated by the former Davao City mayor’s detractors to deter the president from fulfilling his promise of ridding the country of the incessant drug problem as well as criminality and terrorism.
Majority of Filipinos have expressed satisfaction over the chief executive’s performance, especially in responding to the problem of crime and drugs, aside from addressing the ongoing health crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic which has disrupted the lives of millions of Filipinos and caused a downturn in the economy.
Satisfaction rating of Filipinos with President Duterte’s style of governance even garnered a record high of 95% overall approval rating.
Though the war on drugs accordingly claimed thousands of lives and likewise drew global condemnation that enmeshed the national police force in scandal, the Duterte administration has remained overwhelmingly popular among the citizenry.
The reasons are manifold, but they hinge on Filipinos’ apparent willingness to overlook the death toll as long as Duterte’s government satisfies their individual economic and political interests, analysts say.
Prior to his election as the country’s leader, Duterte had promised to eradicate criminals—“kill them all,” he said—and Filipinos appear to view Duterte as keeping his word.
“The war on drugs has been synonymous with the president. They mutually feed each other. Until one is undone, the other will not be undone,” former lawmaker Francisco Ashley Acedillo enthused. (AI/MTVN)