Opposition banking on ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s intervention due to hopeless 2022 prospects

I’d like to see the International Criminal Court (ICC) bring charges to Xi Jin Ping for what China is doing in Hong Kong. The ICC is supposed to be a court of last resort. But former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio lists in his Inquirer column “The ICC Prosecutor’s submission” today why the complementarity principle where the ICC can only prosecute crimes when a government is “unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution” isn’t applicable to the Philippines. He cites the Constitution which stipulates that, “the President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices” and that the Ombudsman is powerless against impeachable executives. He then writes…

In conclusion, under Philippine law and jurisprudence, Philippine authorities are clearly “unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution” of President Duterte for the alleged crimes he is being investigated by the ICC. Philippine authorities are “unable genuinely” to investigate or prosecute President Duterte for any crime of whatever nature while he remains in office. Thus, Philippines authorities cannot raise the complementarity rule as a defense before the ICC.

Carpio conveniently omits that the Philippines has withdrawn from the ICC for what it deems a violation of sovereignty given the country is not a failed state. It’s interesting to note that the US isn’t a signatory to the Rome statute and it doesn’t recognize the authority of the ICC. Why? The US has overtly or covertly initiated regime-change in several countries since the end of World War II. Some of these have resulted in long wars such as that in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has turned Libya into a failed state after it deposed Muammar Qaddafi.

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The Opposition has been crowing about ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s recommendation since its release. The end is near for Duterte they say. Immunity from suit is a protection provided the head of state in any Constitution for obvious simple reasons. How, after all, can a President exercise his functions if he has to contend with cases filed against him by disgruntled citizens or members of the opposition? There is no such thing as good faith in politics. We have seen the weaponization of the impeachment provision in the Constitution. But the most glaring omission is the fact that the evidence submitted by Jude Sabio and Antonio Trillanes are news clippings and photographs of the fatalities in the drug war!

The hypocrisy is disturbing because if the basis is principle then why has no one filed a case against the New People’s Army (NPA), the terrorist arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), for the killings it has committed since 1968? The public uproar over the Absalon brothers murder by the NPA had the leftist-militant groups scrambling last week to control the damage from the resulting public relations nightmare. Whatever justification they cited wasn’t bought by the public. The other members of the Opposition did not condemn outright the actions of the CPP-NPA. The damage control is now at the stage where the leftist-militant groups are turning the tables by exposing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) allegedly killing a group of indigenous peoples in Surigao for being NPA sympathizers.

Antonio Carpio is a lawyer and a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. The better question for him is this: Why does he have more sympathy for the drug pushers and addicts killed than the victims of the latter? The change in the peace and order situation in the whole country is palpable. The drug menace reached the point where the assessment of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was that drugs were available in every barangay in the country. During the administration of former President Noynoy Aquino, riding-in-tandem shootings occurred on a daily basis. Rape, robbery and homicide were common fare on TV Patrol‘s nightly newscast. Shabu was being openly sold in neighborhood sari-sari stores. Thieves were stealing spare tires and side mirrors from vehicles parked on the streets. It was an unprecedented level of brazenness which prevailed and had ordinary Filipinos fearful of walking the streets.

The detachment from reality of the Opposition is evident. Carpio spearheads 1Sambayan which produced a spectacular flop last June 12. The problem with the Opposition is they have been so used to employing shortcuts to get back in power. Unfortunately for them, the advent of social media has made black propaganda campaigns less effective as they were during the previous administrations. Traditional media can spin news reports and op-ed pages but every citizen now has a voice.

It would do well for Carpio to listen to these voices. If the Opposition wants to defeat Duterte, they will have to do it legally at the ballot box. The hypocritical attitude with which they regard the definition of sovereignty in the Constitution is alarming. It shows that they have no respect for the rule of law. Mob rule isn’t an option for them at this point, because the numbers they have in their ranks isn’t enough to face the greater majority of the Filipino people who support the administration.

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