Senator Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday the recent report of the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs is a “good as press” release for now.
“The Office is satisfied that information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that the crimes against humanity of murder (Article 7(1)(a)), torture (article 7(1)(f)) and the infliction of serious physical injury and mental harm as other inhumane Acts (article 7(1)(k)) were committed on the territory of the Philippines between at least 1 July 2016 and 16 March 2019, in connection to the WoD campaign launched throughout the country,” ICC said on its report.
Lacson said, “In the realm of possibilities to prosecute the president for crimes against humanity, the statement of Prosecutor [Fatou] Bensouda may only be good as a press release and nothing more, at least at this point in time.”
The senator added he was uncertain what the prosecutor meant as “reasonable basis to believe.”
“Under the ICC statute, reasonable grounds to believe is considered as an ‘unreasonably unclear evidentiary threshold,'” Lacson said.
He added that the ICC prosecutor should also prove that the Philippines’ criminal justice system is “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.”
Lacson: ICC’s report on Duterte’s drug war has no bearing for now
Senate President Vicente Sotto III also shared the same tune with Lacson.
“That’s what she believes. Some believe otherwise,” he said in a message to reporters.
Meanwhile, opposition senators said they were not surprised with the ICC’s opinion on Duterte’s war on drugs.
“It doesn’t come as a surprise. It is a bit troubling though that it took them over four years of daily killings to find a ‘reasonable basis.’ Perhaps if they acted sooner, thousands of lives could have been saved,” Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said in a separate message.
For Senator Risa Hontiveros, “reasonable basis” was even an understatement.
“Still, I strongly hope the recent findings of the International Criminal Court finally bring justice to the victims of this administration’s brutal war on drugs,” she said.
“This report offers new hope for justice and humanity, as we continue to commemorate all those felled by bloody ‘tokhang.’ Exacting accountability for these extrajudicial killings has been a long time coming,” she added.