President Duterte should allow the ICC to conduct an investigation instead of blocking it, Senator Manny Pacquiao said.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao in one of the deliberations in the Senate. Senate PRIB file photo / ALBERT CALVELO

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte should allow the impending International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into the alleged commission of crimes against humanity in the war against illegal drugs instead of blocking it, Senator Manny Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao, once Duterte’s staunch ally, said that Duterte would go against his oath of office, and even his oath as a lawyer, if he remains firm in not allowing ICC probers to investigate him.

Duterte is facing complaints before the ICC for the crime against humanity of murder, for his much-criticized drug war which has claimed the lives of over 6,000 drug suspects.

“Ang Pangulo ay nangakong ipatutupad ang ating mga batas nang umupo siya sa pwesto noong 2016. Ganito rin ang kanyang pangako nang manumpa siya bilang abugado. Di niya dapat talikuran ang mga pangako niya sa taumbayan at sa bansa,” Pacquiao said in a statement on Friday.

(The President vowed to defend the Constitution and our laws when he took office in 2016 and even earlier when he was sworn in as a lawyer. He cannot renege on his sworn duties to our people and our country.)

“Dapat ipagtanggol natin ang rule of law bilang pundasyon ng pamamahala. Kung hindi, mauuwi tayo sa anarkiya o malawakang kaguluhan, kasama na riyan ang garapalang kurapsyon,” he added.

(We must defend the rule of law as the foundation of  good governance. Otherwise,  our nation will descend into anarchy and  widespread disorder as well as unbridled corruption.)

Pacquiao’s statements are somewhat different from his remarks in 2017 and 2018, when he defended Duterte and the war against illegal drugs.  In 2017, although he condemned the killing of teenager Kian delos Santos during a drug operation in Caloocan in August 2017, Pacquiao said that he still fully supports Duterte’s drug war.

The case of Delos Santos, who was summarily executed by Caloocan policemen despite the minor not being the operation’s original target, is the only drug war death where police officers were convicted.

All three cops in the incident were found guilty of murder, as a CCTV camera footage showed Delos Santos being dragged to a dark alley before he was shot point blank.

READ: Pacquiao slams erring cops abusing gov’t war on drugs | 3 policemen guilty of killing Kian delos Santos — court 

Pacquiao made a similar statement in 2018, when former Sen. Antonio Trillanes raised the possibility that over 20,000 individuals have already died in Duterte’s drug war.  Pacquiao said that it appears Trillanes is too judgmental as he labeled the deaths as extrajudicial killings even before it was even investigated.

READ: ‘Too judgmental,’ says Pacquiao as Trillanes notes 20,000 drug war deaths 

The ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber on Wednesday night (Manila time) announced that they have approved the request of former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for judicial authority to proceed with a probe on the crimes against humanity complaint filed versus President Rodrigo Duterte.

Bensouda sought judicial authority last June 14, days after she stepped down from her post, after concluding that that based on information gathered by her office, there is reason to believe that state actors have killed thousands of civilians under the war against illegal drugs.

She also noted that the information suggests that vigilante-style killings were perpetrated by police officers themselves or other private individuals hired by authorities — leading to a death toll of between 12,000 to 30,000 civilians.

The investigations would be done by Bensouda’s successor, Karim Khan.

READ: ICC pre-trial chamber authorizes start of probe into Duterte’s drug war 

Complaints against Duterte for his bloody drug war were filed by several rights groups and sectors critical of his anti-illegal drugs campaign like the Rise Up for Life and Rights, which is composed of drug war victims’ relatives and other rights advocates.

According to the group, Duterte has violated Article 7 of the Rome Statute for “widespread and systematic attacks in the form of murder of thousands of civilians.

Late lawyer Jude Sabio also filed a separate complaint, which he later on retracted as it was supposedly being used for the political propaganda of the opposition.

READ: Lawyer withdraws ICC complaint vs Duterte, saying it’s just ‘propaganda’ 

Then in December 2020, ICC said that it had a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity were committed in the drug war.

READ: ICC finds ‘reasonable basis’ to believe crimes against humanity committed in Duterte’s drug war 

JPV

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