Go reiterates: Duterte will face only Philippine courts

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Go reiterates: Duterte will face only Philippine courts
“There is democracy in our country, and the ICC is only investigating lawless countries. We don’t have a dictator here,” Sen. Bong Go said in Filipino.
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MANILA, Philippines — Former president Rodrigo Duterte will only face Philippine courts and not a “foreign nation,” Sen. Bong Go reiterated yesterday, as he expressed confidence that the Marcos administration will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s investigation on Duterte for alleged crimes against humanity.

“It is the Filipino people who should give judgement, and not a foreign nation,” Go said in an interview on the sidelines of the bicameral conference committee meeting at the Manila Golf and Country Club in Makati.

He said he is reassured by the statement of President Marcos that there was no need for an international tribunal investigation on the previous administration’s drug war deaths because of the country’s own justice system.

“There is democracy in our country, and the ICC is only investigating lawless countries. We don’t have a dictator here,” Go said in Filipino.

He added that he defers to the moves at the House of Representatives to adopt a resolution urging the Marcos administration to cooperate with the ICC’s investigation on Duterte and the latter’s police chief, now Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, for the deaths in the bloody narcotics crackdown.

But should the former chief executive be invited in an impending congressional investigation, Go said Duterte should be accorded due respect.

“Let us give to the former president what is due to him, for his service to the country,” Go said in Filipino.

The senator, who served as Duterte’s longtime aide, was mentioned in the documents submitted for allegedly knowing about the Davao death squad when Duterte was mayor, another subject of the ICC probe, VERA Files earlier reported.

Go also denied that he and Dela Rosa talked to Marcos about protection from the ICC when senators had a casual dinner with Chief Executive at the official residence on Tuesday night.

Justice for all

Allowing investigators and prosecutors from the Hague-based International Criminal Court will not only prove that lady justice is indeed blind in the Philippine justice system, but also means that it applies to all – ordinary or powerful figures alike, Manila 6th District Rep. Bienvenido Abante said yesterday.

“By cooperating with the ICC, we send a strong message that justice is blind and applies to all, regardless of socioeconomic status,” the chairman of the human rights committee of the House of Representatives declared.

Abante, who authored House Resolution 1477 along with Rep. Ramon Gutierrez (1-Rider party-list), said such cooperation is vital given the injustices inflicted upon the “marginalized and underserved” during the drug war under the previous administration.

Abante also lamented that the drug war under former president Duterte “affected the most vulnerable members of our society, often the poor who are disproportionately impacted.”

“By cooperating with the ICC, we demonstrate our resolve to hold individuals accountable for grave offenses. This is a precedent and sends a powerful message against impunity,” he said, as he wanted to “extend full cooperation” to ICC prosecutor Karim Khan in his investigation of the drug war.

Official records indicate around 6,000 deaths resulting from Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, while human rights groups and the ICC suggest the toll may range from 12,000 to 30,000 between 2016 and 2019.

A 2020 study by the non-profit organization Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services Inc. (IDEALS) revealed that the majority of victims in the drug war are economically disadvantaged.

In its study titled “Beyond the Numbers,” IDEALS compiled a dataset encompassing approximately 500 cases of human rights violations from 2016 to February 2020. The cases predominantly originated from Metro Manila, with additional instances recorded in Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Cebu. – Delon Porcalla

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