Complainants ready to support ICC on probe vs. Duterte war on drugs

Marje Pelayo   •   June 16, 2021   •   418

MANILA, Philippines — Complainants in the Philippines’ drug war issue said there won’t be any problem even if the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte won’t cooperate in the investigation that was sought by former International Criminal Court Prosecutor (ICC) Fatou Bensouda.

According to Atty. Kristina Conti of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) who stands as one of the legal counsels of the complainants, they are more than willing to support the investigation by providing witnesses and pieces of evidence.

“Kung usapin naman access doon sa witnesses doon sa mga dokumento na hindi makapasok sa PIlipinas, pwede naman kami gumawa ng paraan na kami yung mga witnesses yung lalabas ng bansa,” Conti said.

She said that although officials of the Duterte government have the right to remain silent about the issue, the complainants have the right to access evidence under the Freedom of Information Law, especially if the killings involved their loved ones.

They believe justice will be served as culprits in the crime will soon be put behind bars.

“Hindi kami sasalalay doon sa kung ano ang sasabihin nila. Hindi kami sasalalay kung ano ang aaminin nila. Sasalalay kami doon sa lakas namin. The strength of the prosecution will rely kung ano yung aming ebidensya,” the lawyer added.

Atty. Neri Colmenares who also stands as one of the legal counsels of the complainants expressed confidence that the case will yield positive results in their favor.

“We are very confident na magawa and of course hopefully ang bagong presidente sa 2022 will not protect President Duterte lalo na kung wala na siya sa pwesto,” he said.

The NUPL said they expected the administration’s refusal to cooperate in the probe which was obvious when the national government decided to withdraw from the ICC sometime in 2019 when attempts to investigate the so-called extrajudicial killings in the Philippines surfaced.

“Alam ito ni Secretary Roque bilang familiar siya sa ICC. States have the responsibility to fulfill their duties even after they have left the ICC kasi itong imbestigasyon na ito ay nasimulan noong miyembro pa tayo hindi pwedeng aalis na lang tayo tapos bahala na,” Conti argued.

The group is asking President Duterte that, for the sake of fairness, if the Chief Executive chooses to keep mum on the issue, he should at least allow the investigation and provide protection to the complainants and the witnesses.  MNP (with reports from Dante Amento)

Philippines yet to receive formal request from ICC for proof of probe into drug war deaths – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has yet to receive a formal request from the International Criminal Court (ICC) to provide concrete information that it is conducting investigations into allegations involving the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles issued the statement following reports that ICC Prosecutor Khan will ask the Philippine government to provide substantiating information regarding its probe into allegations of crime committed under its war against drugs.

“We would like to clarify that we have yet to receive a formal request with regard to this matter. That being said, we reiterate our position that the ICC has no jurisdiction to probe our campaign against illegal drugs,” Nograles said.

“Clearly, the ICC prosecutor’s request for information is an acknowledgment that alleged victims can seek redress in Philippine legal institutions because these are independent, impartial, and competent,” he added.

Moreover, Nograles said that the ICC prosecutor’s statement “validates our earlier position that the ICC is the court of last resort, one that can be utilized when a State Party is unwilling to investigate and prosecute those who violate its laws.”

“This is simply not the case in the Philippines. Our criminal justice system continues to be capable and functional, and a case in point is the signing of the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation of an agreement to conduct cooperative investigations,” he said.

Nograles stressed that this serves as “evidence that a culture of impunity does not exist in our country as local institutions have demonstrated their commitment to accountability.”

Khan, in a statement posted on Tuesday, said the Duterte administration must submit concrete proof that its is investigating allegations involving its war on drugs after the ICC deferred its probe upon the request of the Philippine government.

The ICC deferred the probe after the government said that investigations on reported deaths during anti-drug operations are underway.

“Such information must consist of tangible evidence, of probative value and a sufficient degree of specificity, demonstrating that concrete and progressive investigative steps have been or are currently being undertaken,” the statement read.

Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Eduardo Malaya wrote Khan that the country’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has already referred to the National Bureau of Investigation the 52 cases it reviewed, where administrative liability was found on the part of concerned law enforcers.

Members of the National Union of People’s Lawyers and the Free Legal Assistance Group have called on the ICC to resume its probe, saying the DOJ is only looking at several cases out of tens of thousands of killings allegedly linked to the drug war.

Presidential aspirants tackle Phl major issues

Maris Federez   •   November 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential candidates for the 2022 national and local elections have visited several places in the country over the weekend, laying down their opinions and proposed actions on major issues in the country.

On Saturday, Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson flew to Pag-asa Island amid the tension in the West Philippine Sea.

He was accompanied by senatorial aspirant and former Philippine National Police chief General Guillermo Eleazar.

Lacson led the Philippine flag-raising activities on the island.

The Senator insists that the Philippines needs to forge alliances with big countries and eventually take back the islands that have been claimed by others.

“Hindi natin kayang mag-isa. Mag-strengthen tayo ng alliances with the other militarily strong countries na mga binanggit ko kanina nang sa ganoon, unti-unti ma-repossess natin ‘yung halos daan-daang nawawala sa atin,” Lacson said.

Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso went to Payatas, Quezon City and visited the Material Recovery Facility in the area.

There, Mayor Isko promised to provide housing to the poor.

“Kapag ako ay sinuwerte, kapag akoy sinuwerte kung ano ang ginawa ko sa Maynila na pabahay, ganun din ang gagawin ko sa buong bansa,” Domagoso said.

Vice President Leni Robredo, on the other hand, had been going around Quezon province in the past few days.

Robredo promised to address the alleged injustices that coconut farmers have been experiencing and vowed to distribute among them the controversial Coco Levy Fund.

The team of former Senator Bongbong Marcos and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, meanwhile, went around Tagum City in Davao del Norte over the weekend.

The BBM-Sara tandem was with Lakas-CMD President House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and other members of the House of Representatives.

Presidential Leody de Guzman, on the other hand, held a dialogue with officials and fisherfolks in Barangay Bayod in Los Baños, Laguna.

In a separate statement, de Guzman lamented the suspension of the International Criminal Court’s investigation on the Duterte Administration’s war on drugs.

“Pero naniniwala ako na hindi pa dapat magsaya si Pangulong Duterte dahil magpapatuloy ang paniningil ng mga magulang at kamag-anak at ng sambayang Pilipino,” De Guzman said.

Other presidential aspirants, senators Manny Pacquiao and Christopher ‘Bong’ Go, did not have any reported public engagements over the weekend.

However, Senator Go released a statement opposing the cut on the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) budget.

Go said the task force has a big role in the lasting peace and order in the remote areas of the country.

“Napakalaki ng papel ng NTF-ELCAC sa hangarin nating magkaroon ng pangmatagalang kapayapaan, lalo na sa mga kapos sa buhay at nasa malalayong komunidad sa bansa. Kung kaya’t kamakailan ay tumutol ako sa pagtapyas ng budget nito,” Go said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Malacañang leaves naming of cocaine-using candidate to President Duterte

Maris Federez   •   November 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang will leave it to President Rodrigo Duterte to name the presidential candidate in the 2022 national and local elections whom he disclosed is into cocaine.

Duterte made the disclosure during his speech on Thursday in the province of Oriental Mindoro.

“May kandidato tayo na nagko-cocaine ‘yan. ‘Yung anak ng mayaman. Kaya nga nagtaka ako. Anong nagawa ng tao na yan? I am just asking what contribution has he made para sa Pilipinas? ‘Yan lang ang gusto kong tanungin,” Duterte said.

Acting Presidential spokesperson Secretary Karlo Nograles believes that Duterte has a strong basis for his revelation, pointing out that the President has access to varied sources of information to back his claims.

Nograles said it is up to the president to name the said presidential aspirant at a proper time.

“Si Pangulo siyempre has access to many resources including intel reports on naming the said individual,” Nograles said,

“We will leave it to the sound judgement of the president. So nasa discretion na po ng pangulo kung papangalanan ba niya at kung kailan at kung magdesisyon ba siya na pangalanan ang indibidual na yan,” he added.

Nograles stressed that as the war on drugs is the foremost campaign of the Duterte administration, it doesn’t discriminate against whoever is involved in illegal drugs.

He said there are proper agencies that will investigate and file cases on the said individual.

“Ang ating mga law enforcement agencies especially drug enforcement agencies siyempre alam naman po nila ang kanilang mandato. So, whatever social status at kung sinoman may nakuhang mga intel reports alam na po ng ating mga law enforcement agencies kung ano ang dapat gawin,” Nograles said.

He added that it is up to the presidential candidates to clear their names and prove that they do not use illegal drugs.

“There’s always been the clamor and it’s really up to the candidates to show that they take the test and that they clear the drug test. So ang nangyayari every election voluntary na lamang yan,” Nograles said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

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