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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Missionary, civil society welcome ICC Prosecutor Bensouda's move

Redemptorist missionary, several others welcome ICC Prosecutor’s statement

MANILA – Fr. Amado Picardal, the Redemptorist Missionary who was the spokesperson of the Coalition Against Summary Execution (CASE) that documented the reported extrajudicial killings in Davao City said he welcomes outgoing ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s most recent statement.

“The decision of the ICC prosecutor’s office to seek authorization for the opening of the investigation for the extrajudicial killings (EJK) in the Philippines that started in Davao is a source of hope that those responsible will be held accountable, and justice be served the victims and survivors,” he said in a statement sent to this writer.

He added he hopes this move will “help stop the killings that continue even during this time of the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, the Movement Against Tyranny said they welcome the move of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to request for authorization from the ICC pre-trial chamber to formally investigate the Duterte government for its crime against humanity of murder in relation to President Duterte’s war on drugs.

“This is one big step in the quest for justice for thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s brutal regime. It is a testament to the perseverance of the families of the victims, their lawyers, and all those who have dared to demand justice in these dark times,” the MAT statement revealed.

They called on the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber to act favorably on Prosecutor Bensouda’s request “so that the investigation can immediately proceed.” They said this is of great urgency because the killings are on-going, with Duterte continuing to give bloody orders to the police.

They added the ICC need to realize that the investigation can somehow put pressure on the perpetrators to stop the killings, “which have now morphed into the wholesale murder of activists, government critics, and ordinary citizens tagged as communists and terrorists.

“We demand no less than full cooperation from the Philippine authorities. President Duterte cannot hind behind his self-serving withdrawal from the ICC as the crimes to be investigated happened when the Philippines was still a member of the Court,” MAT co-convenors Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB and Dr. Carol Araullo said.

Over in Malacañang, media reports quoted Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque saying yesterday the Philippines will not cooperate with any International Criminal Court investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity committed during the course of the “war on drugs” while President Duterte remains in power.

“The President will never cooperate until the end of his term on June 30, 2022,” Secretary Roque said when sought for comment after outgoing ICC prosecutor Bensouda asked for the Court’s clearance to begin a full-blown investigation into the drug war killings. He described Prosecutor Bensouda’s move as “legally erroneous” as well as “politically motivated.”

As far as former lawmaker and Commission on Human Rights chairperson Loretta Ann Paragas Rosales is concerned, she said Akbayan Partylist is not at all surprised by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s remarks that the Duterte administration would not cooperate with any investigation to be made by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a statement, Akbayan chair emeritus Rosales said it was Roque who once lobbied for the Philippines’ inclusion in the ICC and even praised the previous administration for ratifying the Rome Statute, is the same Roque who refuses to recognize its jurisdiction.

“The ICC has jurisdiction over Duterte’s systematic summary killings as crimes against humanity from 2016 to 2019. And the can still hold him accountable for him since the Philippines was still a member of the ICC when he committed these crimes. Walang takas, kahit sinubukan nilang tumakas, former CHR Chair Rosales said.

As far as Diocese of Legazpi Bishop Joel Z. Baylon is concerned, he said “Kun daing itinatagò, nata ta mahabô?” (If there’s nothing to hide, why refuse?”). (Melo M. Acuña)

Fr. Amado Picardal, CSsR. (File Photo/Melo M. Acuna)

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