“I don’t want others to suffer the same fate as that of my son.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — No less than the relatives of victims of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war against illegal drugs have filed charges against the latter over Crimes against Humanity today, Aug. 28, before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Lawyer Neri Colmenares, chairperson of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said the Communication and Complaint filed today before the International Criminal Court ”aims to make President Duterte, being the most responsible, account for his crimes against humanity committed through acts of murder for the extra-judicial killing of thousands of Filipinos and other inhumane acts for causing great suffering to the victims and their families under the Article 7 of the Rome Statute.”
The 50-page complaint was submitted electronically and received by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC at 10:10 a.m. (Philippine time).
The war against illegal drugs has been Duterte’s key pet issue even when he was still the then tough-talking mayor of Davao, during the presidential campaign, and all the more when he became president in 2016.
He has repeatedly issued public statements, ordering the killing of those allegedly involved in illegal drug use and trade.
Critics, however, said his so-called war against illegal drugs has only targeted the poor.
The police said there have been only 4,410 killed in relation to the anti-drug campaign, a far cry from the 23,000 deaths, per estimate of media and human rights groups.
Rise Up For Life and for Rights coordinator Deaconness Rubylin Litao said the killings must be stopped, adding that the ”prevailing atmosphere of death and impunity forces us to live in fear of state forces and masked men roaming around our humble communities, carrying a license to kill assured by no less than the President himself.”
The Rise Up For Life and for Rights, along with the six complainants, were assisted by the NUPL in the filing of the said complaint.
Colmenares explained during the press conference that they have sought the ICC due to Duterte’s immunity to prosecution in Philippine courts. He noted that even if Philippine courts are allowed, ”they are not willing.”
One of the complainants, Dennise David, father of John Jezreel who was killed in a police operation in 2017, said the filing of the complaint is now bigger than them.
He said, ”I don’t want others to suffer the same fate as that of my son. Despite our fear and limited resources, we will try every avenue and arena possible to ensure that.”