Is the ICC coming?

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

Last Friday evening, I received a phone call from someone who sounded quite excited. As soon as I picked the phone, my caller, while forgetting the usual pleasantries, shot the question right away: “Are you a clairvoyant, attorney?” Modesty aside, it is not easy to surprise or even startle me but since I was totally unprepared for his question I simply said: “No, sir. I am not.”

Mr. Caller said, in so many words, that he does not miss my column. According to him, the very first thing he does each Thursday and Sunday is open his copy of The FREEMAN and read my article. Feeling humbled, I could only utter my sincere thanks.

The caller claimed that he just heard from the television the news that revolved around what I wrote recently. That was why he imagined me as someone capable of foreseeing events. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., accordingly declared that the matter of allowing the entry of the investigators of the International Criminal Court into our country “is under study”. The ICC people are coming to investigate hostis humanis generis the crimes allegedly committed by the past regime of Rodrigo Roa Duterte! What with 30,000 extra judicial killings rumored to have been committed with his blessings. The excited caller recalled that in my previous write-up I surmised that when (not if) this ICC investigation would happen, “the day of reckoning” would have come to Duterte. He ended his call with the question: “Will the former president languish in a worse jail than where he allegedly put Sen. De Lima in?”

The position of President Marcos Jr is a complete turnaround. But believe me, this new stand of Malacañang appears fundamentally sound. In the early days of his administration, he previously said that “he (would) not cooperate with the ICC.” Differently worded, the president then made it clear that he would not allow the ICC to come to the Philippines to investigate the alleged crimes committed by Duterte and his ilk. That was a wrongly conceived international policy because while it looked like an apparent exercise of independent foreign policy, it placed the advances in human rights back to intolerable dark ages.

Just the same, will this “under study” stand of the president lead to actual welcoming of an ICC team to our shores to investigate Duterte’s alleged culpability? Or was it just made as a subtle reminder to Duterte who holds the reins of government. The term “under study” is both a bureaucratic and diplomatic jargon to smoothen a transition from one policy to another. The policy, enunciated when Marcos Jr. assumed power, was that ICC could not touch Duterte. This is now perceived to be changing and “under study” means that the new regime wants to know whether a new policy be put in place.

Behind this jargon are manifestations indicating the winds of change that should predicate a shift of policy. The following enumeration includes only those that are much talked about for we know that the more brutal wielding of power is less plainly visible to ordinary mortals. First, there was this branding made by the vice president of an unnamed someone as tambaloslos! Second there is this reputed scratching from the budget of the vice president’s preferred confidential funds. Third, was this derogatory remark by ex-president Duterte that Congress, headed by the probable tambaloslos, is the “most rotten” if not the most corrupt department of the government. Fourth, the rumored initiation in Congress of an impeachment proceeding against the vice president, and fifth the reported filing in the Lower House of resolutions asking the president to open our doors to the ICC.

The last of my enumeration likely signals the coming of Duterte’s day of reckoning, which view was what my caller described as clairvoyant’s sixth sense.

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