Lawyers alliance: Marcos gov't should cooperate with ICC in 'war on drugs' probe

Lawyers alliance: Marcos gov't should cooperate with ICC in 'war on drugs' probe

Nanette Castillo grieves next to the dead body of her son Aldrin, an alleged drug user killed by unidentified assailants, in Manila on October 3, 2017. Noel Celis/AFP

MANILA, Philippines — An alliance of lawyers, judges, legal practitioners, and law students said that a review of the Duterte administration's so-called war on drugs should look at the policy and responsibility of senior political leaders and law enforcement officials, not just of implementation by police officers on the ground.

In a statement sent to reporters, the Mananaggol Laban sa Extra-Judicial Killings or Manlaban sa EJK pointed to the paltry number of cases with ongoing proceedings as it urged the Marcos administration to cooperate with the investigation of the International Criminal Court, saying this would achieve a "high level of accountability" which President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has said he wants in human rights. 

"At present, no more than 20 murder or homicide cases against police are in court, with many of these handled by members. Still, it is but a fraction of the 6,252 killed in police operations and thousands others in related incidents," the statement read.

"The ICC is an international court with the competence and independence direly needed in an investigation of state policy infused with state participation. Where crimes committed may have had legal cover in the domestic state, or where perpetrators enjoy impunity, the ICC should step in to take to account all those involved in the most heinous crimes against humanity."

The number is from the national government's "Real Numbers PH" program which aggregates statistics from all anti-drug agencies. But it only includes anti-drug suspects killed in official police operations, and human rights groups say the death toll can be as high as 30,000 when factoring in vigilante killings.

READ: Rights watchdog: Possible ICC probe will be 'painstaking, tedious' process

Manlaban sa EJK, which was formed during the Duterte administration, said it would continue to scrutinize the anti-narcotics campaign over the next six years under Marcos.

The group said that the ICC was "correct in pursuing [a review] of its own" instead of merely relying on the Department of Justice's review of select incidents.

"If Marcos really intends to continue the 'war on drugs' within the framework of the law and with respect for human rights, he should cooperate more closely with the ICC investigation, and eventually, rejoin the assembly of states parties," the group also said. 

To recall, former President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out against the ICC by pulling out of the global court in response to its preliminary investigation into his administration's anti-drug campaign. 

In an earlier interview, the Commission on Human Rights said that it supported Marcos' intent to continue the "drug war," as long as his iteration of it would be one "that is based on the right to health, rather than from the peace and order approach."

"There is more pressure for the next administration and for the Philippine National Police to demonstrate that it is really in support of accountability measures and cleansing programs," CHR executive director Jacqueline de Guia told Philstar.com

"We do hope that lessons were learned in the campaign against drugs [and]  that there will be tangible and concrete steps to be taken by the government to ensure that the human rights situation on the ground will improve."

 — Franco Luna with a report from Kristine Joy Patag 

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