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Reek of EJK blood reaches int’l court

NEW YORK – The stench of spilled blood and the cries of the families of victims of extra-judicial killings (EJKs) have reached The Hague, seat of the International Criminal Court that hears complaints of “crimes against humanity.”

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Thursday in The Hague: “My office is aware of worrying reported extra-judicial killings of alleged drug dealers and users in the Philippines, which may have led to over 3,000 deaths in the past three months.”

Back in Makati, Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio of the Supreme Court warned Friday that President Rodrigo Duterte could be impeached if he yielded Philippine sovereignty to China over the Panatag (Scarborough) shoal 120 nautical miles west of Zambales.

Carpio said in a forum at the Asian Institute of Management that the President would be violating the Constitution if he conceded Panatag to Beijing. He warned that Duterte can never recover the shoal once he gives it up – as China will not submit to Philippine courts.

In The Hague, Bensouda said: “I am deeply concerned about these alleged killings and the fact that public statements of high officials of the (Philippines) seem to condone such killings and further seem to encourage State forces and civilians alike to continue targeting these individuals with lethal force.

“Extra-judicial killings may fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court if they are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population pursuant to a State policy to commit such an attack.

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“Let me be clear: any person in the Philippines who incites or engages in acts of mass violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing, in any other manner, to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution before the Court.”

Bensouda said her office will be “closely following developments in the Philippines and record any instance of incitement or resort to violence with a view to assessing whether a preliminary examination into the situation of the Philippines needs to be opened.”

• ICC not into selective prosecution

THIS TIME, President Duterte may not complain that he or the Philippines is being singled out by the international court. He raised that objection recently after the United Nations Rapporteur on Human Rights commented on alleged HR violations in the country.

The ICC Prosecutor has been investigating cases in Uganda, the Congo; Darfur (in Sudan), the Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Georgia. It is also conducting preliminary examinations related to situations in Afghanistan; Burundi; the registered vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia; Colombia; Gabon; Guinea; Iraq/UK; Palestine, Nigeria and Ukraine.

So far, 39 individuals have been indicted in the ICC, including Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, and Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo.

The ICC was established in 2002 by the so-called Rome Statute under the auspices of the UN. As of last March, 124 signatory states, including the Philippines, are party to the statute negotiated and approved in the Italian capital.

Since the Philippines is a state party to the ICC, the Court has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on its territory, or by its nationals, since Nov. 1, 2011, when the Statute entered into force in the Philippines. The crimes do not prescribe.

• Subic ‘bullet train’ out of proportion

THE DUTERTE administration’s sense of proportion and priority is put into question with its plan to build a 60-kilometer “bullet train” line between the Subic Free Trade Zone in Zambales and the Clark Freeport in Pampanga.

The project was revealed Wednesday by Martin Diño, new chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. He was the politician who filed a certificate of candidacy for president in the May elections then handed it to then Davao Mayor Duterte when he decided to run.

The train project is on the long shopping list of Duterte in Beijing Oct. 18-21. The world is watching if the President will pay for the Chinese goodies with Panatag and the arbitral decision in The Hague that granted practically all the Philippine submissions to the tribunal.

The 60-kilometer rail line is ridiculous. At 200 kilometers per hour, the “bullet train” will cover the distance in less than 20 minutes. After five minutes of accelerating to top speed, the train will start decelerating after only 10 minutes of the bullet-train experience.

How can the multibillion-peso project be viable? With traffic on the parallel Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway already sparse, the train will hardly have riders – unless Diño promotes it as a carnival joyride for those who want to experience a high-speed ride without going to Japan.

He better stop calling it a “bullet train,” a term used by the Japanese in their Shinkansen network with trains running at 240-300 kph. The Chinese, who will finance and build Diño’s toy, call theirs “high-speed rail” (HSR) trains.

Commercial HSR trains in China run at 200 kph or faster. Their nationwide HSR network extends to 28 of the country’s 33 provinces and regions.

There was an accident in the Chinese HSR network in July 2011. A train restarting from a signal stop was hit from behind by another train on a bridge, an accident blamed on a signaling error. About 40 people were killed.

China claims to have the world’s longest HSR network with, as of September 2016, over 20,000 kilometers, part of its network of passenger-dedicated lines (PDLs). That length is reportedly more than the rest of the world’s high-speed rail tracks combined.

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