I invite the public to take note of the recent filing of a complaint that seeks to charge President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and 11 other government officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity. Everyone must study the matter closely.
I personally consider this as an important step towards strengthening the rule of law: one, in terms of holding the individuals concerned accountable for their actions, words and inactions; and two, in terms of subjecting the current approach to drug abuse – Mr. Duterte’s so-called “War on Drugs” – to a thorough and objective judicial review. The case raises transcendental legal and policy issues, and it is our duty as stakeholders to examine these issues with close and critical scrutiny.
Having said this, I would emphasize that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is an international tribunal whose mandate, jurisdiction and procedures are governed exclusively by a treaty called the Rome Statute. The Philippines ratified this treaty in 2011 through the skillful advocacy of civil society organizations led by the Philippine Coalition for the International Court (PCICC) in partnership with the Presidential Human Rights Committee and the Commission on Human Rights which I chaired then, as well as reform-minded leaders in Congress and the Security Sector.
The ICC case against Duterte is only the latest symptom of the continued call for accountability that this administration continues to evade. Populist acceptance is not an excuse to stand by while the killings continue.
We support all legal and Constitutional means to exact accountability from the President in his continuing policy of advocating murder in his campaign against drugs.
This government has seemingly closed all avenues to do this, and the ICC is a last resort against this government's inaction over the 8,000 deaths reported so far.
We dare the President to account for the words he has said instead of relying on his spin masters to twist the truths of what he has publicly stated: he condones the employment of violence against drug suspects.
The Filipino people need to understand that the Philippines is part of a global family of countries to which we have committed to respect the rule of law and human rights.
As a signatory to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC and adopting this through RA 9851, the Philippines recognizes the legitimacy of the ICC's authority. When our own government is unable and unwilling to shield its own citizens from harm by acts of omission and commission, that same community of civilized nations has a responsibility to protect us from our worst impulses.
And the impulse in question before the ICC is the consent and exhortation that Duterte has given, quite explicitly, to the murder of our own citizens and the culture of impunity that allows for the dead bodies to pile up: promising pardon for police forces, killing as jobs for displaced OFWs, promotion for controversial police officers involved in extra judicial killings etc.
Akbayan wonders if President Duterte is obsessed with death and turning the entire Philippines into a graveyard. Arming civilians to combat professional terrorists like the Abu Sayyaf is a surefire way of promoting violence and unmitigated bloodbath all over the country.
Spokesperson Abella's verbal acrobatics denying the president's statement as a policy is belied by Duterte's use of the word pardon, betraying the weight that these words carry with government institutions, such as the police, which has been implicated in the thousands of extra judicial killings as a result of Duterte's drug campaign.
The only was to defeat the Abu Sayyaf is to reverse the political marginalization of the Bangsamoro, bring development to the remote villages of Mindanao & realize inclusive growth, empower citizens & build solidarity among the peoples of the region. It is tedious and long-term, but that's the nature of governing.
Spokesperson Abella would make better use of his time as a close aide to President Duterte by reminding his principal that the country elected a president, not a serial killer, to lead the country.
Almost one year into his term, this administration has only boasted of reaping the low lying fruits of previous administrations' efforts. It has no distinct achievement of its own. Instead things have gone back to the days when plunderers dined on the same table together, while the poor literally die on the street gunned down by unknown assailants.
This is not change. This is carnage, while Duterte and the oligarchs are having cake.
Akbayan today expressed disappointment at the SC dismissal of the plunder case over the misuse of PCSO funds against former President GMA.
"This plunder case represented the only real opportunity to thresh out the crimes that were committed under GMA's administration, and we believe there were plenty," said Akbayan President Machris Cabreros.
"GMA is suffering from delusions of victimhood if she claims this is a vindication," added Cabreros. "Her claimed vindication mocks the letter of the law as she knows what she did -- she plundered public coffers to ensure her political survival."
"Her innocence is only as believable as the conspicuously absent neckbrace she used to wear," teased Cabreros.
This representation from Akbayan casts a negative vote on House Bill No. 4727— a bill that seeks to revive capital punishment for drug-related offenses, and ultimately reeks of both rational and moral bankruptcy.
Make no mistake: The death penalty will not make our communities any safer. We reiterate that in the absence of any evidence that would prove death penalty as an effective deterrent to crime—heinous or otherwise—a person’s right to life must stand supreme.
No crime is worth killing for—especially when the task of condemning a fellow Filipino to death will be undertaken within the context of a flawed criminal justice system. Flawed—from enforcement, prosecution, and adjudication—because none other than the Supreme Court revealed in a review of cases from 1993-2004 that 646 Filipinos could have been wrongfully executed due to erroneous decisions rendered in our lower courts. Fast forward more than a decade after, we all found ourselves at the mercy of a law enforcement agency that is “corrupt to the core,” as President Duterte admitted, only after a foreign businessman was brutally murdered by the very people who swore to serve and protect us. These are the people who will execute this policy, and our fellow Filipinos.
As such, some words of caution: Expect that many of those to be condemned to certain death are the poor precisely because they do not have access to quality legal services, unlike the rich and powerful, who are running the country’s criminal organizations. Expect repercussions from the community of nations as we go against the trend for abolition, and insist on breaking agreements forged by our words of honor. In forcibly passing this bill, we risk losing more than USD1.6 billion in trade yearly, and 200,000 jobs that came with our solemn vow of abolishing the death penalty and protecting the value of human life. Expect future generations to thrive in an environment of violence, impunity, and retribution, as we move closer towards igniting a vicious cycle of vengeance instead of justice.
But as far as Akbayan is concerned—together those who bravely stood for true justice—we will not let this happen. Expect us to continue the fight, if only to save even an innocent life from suffering a gruesome death.
For these reasons, this representation proudly votes AGAINST the death penalty. ###
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