Sotto questions ICC’s report on Duterte’s war on drugs

Senate President Vicente Sotto III questioned Wednesday the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor statement that there is “reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity” had been done in President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war campaign.

“From July 2016 to October 2020, PDEA and PNP have conducted 178,616 anti-illegal drug operations…where 259,296 drug personalities were arrested…5,903 died during operations… seized drugs amount to a total value of P54.02 billion,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.

“Ano pinagsasabi nitong si [ICC prosecutor Fatou] Bensouda na ‘reasonable basis of crimes against humanity’?” he added.

The ICC said that “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.”

In February 2018, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary examination in this regard after studying some communications and reports documenting alleged crimes.

ICC’s report on Duterte’s war on drugs

In March 2018, the Philippine sent a letter to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to leave the jurisdiction of the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC.

“In accordance with article 127, the withdrawal took effect on 17 March 2019. The Court retains jurisdiction over alleged crimes that have occurred on the territory of the Philippines during the period when it was a State Party to the Statute, namely from 1 November 2011 up to and including 16 March 2019,” said ICC.

“Furthermore, the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction (i.e., the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed up to and including 16 March 2019) is not subject to any time limit.”

It was formed to investigate, and sometimes, to prosecute individuals accused of the worst crimes of concern in the international community, such as: “genocide,” “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” and “crime of aggression.”

According to the ICC, thousands of murders have been committed by unidentified assailants, sometimes called “vigilantes.” It often happens in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Central Visayas, Calabarzon, etc.