'War on drugs' victims’ kin ‘unanimously’ support ICC investigation

'War on drugs' victims� kin �unanimously� support ICC investigation
This photo shows a memorial with the names of the victims of extra-judicial killings.
Karapatan, Release

MANILA, Philippines — Families of the victims of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s "war on drugs" unanimously support an investigation by the International Criminal Court into alleged crimes against humanity committed in the country.

The ICC’s Victims Participation and Reparation Section (VPRS) has submitted to the Appeals Chamber a report on May 22 on victims’ representation on whether the investigation into the Philippines should be confirmed, amended or reversed.

Drawing from five victim representation on behalf of 350 individual victims and 165 families, the VPRS said it found that “victims unanimously support an ICC investigation into crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the context of the [“war on drugs”] in the Philippines.”

“As a result, victims request the Chamber to confirm the Article 18(2) Decision,” it said. The chamber recently denied the Philippines’ request to suspend the international court’s investigation on the drug war. 

Principal counsel for the victims Paolina Massidda has earlier echoed the request of ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan in asking the Appeals Chamber to dismiss the Philippine government’s plea and uphold the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision to resume investigation into the Philippines.

In the report, the VPRS illustrated how local institutions still fail to serve justice even under the new administration. “In the words of the victims, ‘justice and accountability in the Philippines remain largely elusive and victims and victims’ families face enormous difficulties in seeking accountability using available domestic legal remedies,” it said.

From police refusing to authenticate documents their offices have previously issued to stories of how authorities would make them sign a document agreeing to close the case of their loved ones because they do not know who the perpetrator was—families of those killed under Duterte’s “war on drugs” recounted their difficult experiences in trying to seek justice back home. 

“If they had helped us here in the Philippines, if we had felt their care, assistance, support, this wouldn’t have escalated and reached a court outside the country,” one statement from a victim read. 

The victims also reported feeling unsafe as there are still instances where police intimidate them even in their communities, while others say they have been pressured not to file cases—affecting their morale.
They also raised that even with the new administration under President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., “inaction continues” and no prospect to obtain justice at domestic level is seen in the current government.

The UP Third World Studies Center's latest report showed there have been 294 total reported drug-related killings under Marcos Jr., with 11 recorded just last May 8 to 15. 

RELATED: Karapatan: Marcos recognition of drug war abuses 'empty rhetoric'

“President Marcos has not eschewed Operation Tokhang and has made no overt action to prosecute or hold accountable any of the top officials or to review the policy,” one of the victim representations said. 

— Kaycee Valmonte with Kristine Joy Patag

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