Jude Josue Sabio .
JUST 10 months from Duterte’s presidency, I personally filed that first communication with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in April 2017. At that time, he just had a fresh popular mandate. But we were undeterred.
Likewise, in February 2018, the ICC launched a preliminary examination in just four months before the end of Duterte’s second year. He retained then his mass appeal.
Mr. Duterte cannot take comfort in his latest Senate sweep. Even if politics is in his favor, the ICC case is not for politics, but for justice. As shown previously, the ICC will act for justice, notwithstanding Duterte’s popularity which is irrelevant to justice.
In fact, again despite such popularity, the latest international call for a United Nation’s probe into Duterte’s war on drugs is becoming stronger. More than two dozen countries are now supporting a resolution calling for such probe.
While the resolution is aimed at the UN, especially the UN Human Rights Council, to do a probe, there has been, since February 2018, a preliminary examination in the ICC which is a prelude to a further investigation.
Expectedly, the resolution is not aimed at the ICC, presumably because as a court, the ICC is independent and should be free from political pressures. A resolution, if aimed at the ICC, could end up as a weapon for critics falsely claiming that ICC is a tool of western powers.
However, it is unrealistic to completely divorce such call from the ongoing ICC preliminary examination. While the call is aimed at the UN, it indirectly sends a very strong signal to the ICC that a full-blown probe enjoys international backing.
Simply put, the resolution sends a clear message: ICC Prosecutor Bensouda should speed up the process and open an investigation.
This unequivocal signal comes after the ICC has opened an investigation into the situation in Burundi. Just like the Philippines, Burundi withdrew from the ICC after it had announced a preliminary examination.
The Burundi situation is a legal precedent for the ICC’s action to open a probe even if the country under such probe has exited from the ICC.
This robust signal comes also after the ICC has announced a preliminary examination into the situation in Myamnar, even if Myanmar is not an ICC member. The Myanmar situation pertains to the forcible mass deportation of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
This cross-border offense that ended up in Bangladesh, which is an ICC member, gave ICC a material link to exercise its jurisdiction over such situation. Recently, ICC Prosecutor Bensouda has sought authorization from the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber to open an investigation.
These developments do not augur well for the punisher Duterte who is alleged in the ICC to be the mastermind of mass murder arising from his system of death squad killings, which was perpetrated through this Davao Death Squad and continued in his war on drugs.
Undoubtedly, it can be said without fear of contradiction that an ICC probe against him and his cohorts is forthcoming. The omen encapsulated in a Kapa member’s now famous remark “bitayin na yan si Duterte” could become a reality sooner than later.
(Jude Josue L. Sabio is a lawyer from Misamis Oriental.)