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ICC will start ‘preliminary examination’ into Duterte’s bloody war against drugs

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Malacañang divulged that it has received notification from the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the organization would start its preliminary explanation into the alleged crimes against humanity committed by President Rodrigo Duterte’s government due to its war on drugs.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the ICC informed the Philippine government of the initial proceedings on the communication that Filipino lawyer Jude Sabio had filed against Duterte and 11 senior officials in April of 2017.

Duterte, who was informed of the development, expressed that he is willing to face the ICC if the charges would progress in the international tribunal.

The President, Roque said, “is sick and tired of being accused of crimes against humanity,” and takes this opportunity to clear his name.

On February 8, Bensouda released a statement that said she would carefully review the allegations of human rights violations against Duterte.

“Specifically, it has been alleged that since 1 July 2016, thousands of persons have been killed for reasons related to their alleged involvement in illegal drug use or dealing,” Bensouda said.

“While some of such killings have reportedly occurred in the context of clashes between or within gangs, it is alleged that many of the reported incidents involved extra-judicial killings in the course of police anti-drug operations,” she added.

No need to claim victory

Roque, an international law expert, explained the difference between a preliminary examination and preliminary investigation, a move that determines whether or not an accused will be indicted or put to trial before the ICC.

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He explained that a preliminary examination would determine if there is basis to conduct a formal investigation into the complaint against Duterte.

The presidential spokesperson also clarified that there was no case filed against Duterte because what Sabio filed was a mere communication.

Roque said that no one should claim victory because the communication does not indict the president. He added that this was only done to embarrass the President but being a lawyer, Duterte also knows the procedure. Roque is confident that the procedures “will fail.”

Roque defended Duterte’s drug war, saying it is a “valid exercise of sovereign powers” and not a crime against humanity.

“As a sovereign state, the Philippines has the inherent responsibility to protect its current and future generations by effectively addressing threats of the safety and well-being of its citizens such as proliferation of illegal drugs,” Roque said.

Malacañang has maintained that the government’s war on drugs was “lawful” and “legitimate.”

For his part, lawyer Sabio said in his communication that Duterte has committed crimes against humanity and has turned killing drug suspects and other criminals as the “best practice” in his drug war.

Sabio is the legal counsel of the self-confessed hitman Edgar Motabato, who testified in the Senate that he was part of the Davao City death squad that operated following Duterte’s orders. He added that he is vindicated and that he is confident that the communication will hurdle the ICC’s preliminary examination.

“Hopefully a warrant of arrest will be issued by the ICC against Duterte and his cohorts,” the Philippine Star quoted Sabio.

ICC conducts preliminary examination into all communications

According to ICC’s website, the Office of the Prosecutor conducts preliminary examination on all of the communications and situations brought to their attention based on the statutory criteria and information available.

The Philippines, last year, warned it might be forced to reassess its ICC membership, saying it is used by opposition group to destabilize the Duterte administration.

Human rights watchdogs have repeatedly expressed alarm over the fatalities of Duterte’s drug war, saying they were victims of extrajudicial killings committed by cops. Duterte’s ferocious war on drugs has been a hallmark of his 30-year political career.

One-on-one meeting

Duterte himself commented on the preliminary examination set for his drug war, saying that he wanted to have a one-on-one meeting with ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

“I hope you come. And I hope that we can be together in a room. I would ask for that rare privilege of talking to you. The two of us in a room with no [one else,]” the President said in a press conference in Davao City on February 9.

If found guilty, Duterte said, “Go ahead. So be it.”

However, he said he would challenge the ICC prosecutor to also consider the Philippines’ “miserable agony” and references the death of an OFW, whose body was found in a freezer in an apartment in Kuwait.

He addressed Bensouda, telling her not only to be concerned over the lives of criminals, but also the
“miserable agony of my country.”

Sources: ( Philippine Star, ABS-CBN News, SunStar )

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Lingao to Uson on being social media Asec – You are supposed to show the way, not act like a common troll

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Veteran journalist Ed Lingao addressed his Facebook post on February 23 to Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson after she shared a photo asking whether people cried over the “theatrics” of activist nuns during the People Power Revolution in Edsa.

This was Lingao’s reaction to Uson’s post of a photo showing nuns bearing rosaries in front of soldiers with guns and a question that read, “Napaiyak din ba kayo sa mga drama ng mga aktibistang madre sa Edsa?” It even came with a hashtag #NeverForget.

In his Facebook post, Lingao said he understood why Uson would not understand the feeling of blocking soldiers and 37-ton Amtraks to stop them from reaching Camp Aguinaldo to block a military mutiny because she was not there.

However, he deemed it unfortunate that Uson also failed to understand this: “If people are able to show true courage in the face of overwhelming power, then that is armor stronger than you would ever be able to comprehend.”

Lingao hit Uson for implying that the rise against power was merely “theatrics.”

“What I cannot understand is where you got the nerve to imply that this was all theatrics,” he wrote.

He then noted how Uson herself seemed to have shown her own “samples of theatrics” by uploading a photo of her surrounded by law books and another photo showing her using a rifle.

“If you want samples of theatrics, there are more appropriate samples out there, like the one on a lady assistant secretary’s blog where she shows herself plinking targets with a rifle, with the caption that says “training kahapon bago pumunta sa Mindanao.” Or one where she is reading law books,” Lingao wrote.

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Lingao then reminded Uson of her position and how she should not abuse it but use it as a means to show people how to act on social media instead of acting like the average online troll.

“You are an assistant secretary for social media. The title given you means that you are to be the best example of social media use; it is not a license to abuse your influence over social media. You are supposed to show the way, not act like a common troll,” he added.

He called the attention of Uson’s boss, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, to advise Uson to read Republic Act No. 6713, which is the country’s code of conduct for government officials and employees.

The veteran journalist also noted how President Rodrigo Duterte’s mom herself, Soledad “Soling” Roa Duterte, led an anti-dictatorship movement against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos called the Yellow Friday Movement. The movement was founded in Mindanao to oppose Marcos in the 1970s and 1980s.

“BTW, did you know that your Tatay’s mother Nanay Soling was part of the anti-dictatorship movement, and led the Yellow Friday group in Davao? Could she have taken part in the local “drama” in Davao too?”

As of writing, Lingao’s post has been shared over 1,500 times.

These are the screenshots of Uson’s Facebook posts that Lingao pointed out in his post.

And this was what Lingao was referring to when he said that an Asec. was reading law books.

Some netizens hailed Lingao’s “burn” comments against Uson.

Last year, Lingao also slammed Uson for sharing Erwin Tulfo’s rants against him and even urging him to listen to Tulfo. He urged Uson to do her own fact-checking of Tulfo’s claims in the video and reminded her that she is a government official, who must be “responsible” in not sharing fake news or defending those who spread it.

Lingao also hit Tulfo for cussing Senator Risa Hontiveros over a misleading meme and his brother, Ben Tulfo, for joining in the discussion with false assumptions.

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Sasot finally gets interviewed by internat’l media but netizens noted she got burned in the process

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Duterte supporter and Manila Times columnist Sass Rogando Sasot became a part of a panel in an interview on a Turkey-based news channel talking about the Philippines’ and President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs, but the netizens noted that she got burned by the host and other panel members.

Sasot’s interview on the Turkish channel TRT World came after her controversial confrontation of BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent Jonathan Head on November 13, 2017 during the ASEAN Summit. Sasot questioned Head about why the BBC gave a “minor blogger” like Duterte critic Jover Laurio an interview, while she wasn’t when she had a previous interaction with Head on Facebook and her engagement on the social media site is “way, way higher” than Laurio’s.

In the TRT World panel discussion on the program Roundtable hosted by David Foster, Sasot, via Skype, joined former ABS-CBN The Filipino Channel (TFC) reporter Gene Alcantara and International Drug Policy Unit executive director John Collins.

The host Foster asked Sasot why she has written in her column that what “mass murderer” Duterte was doing was not only right but was necessary.

Sasot started off explaining how the US State Department has reports as far back as 2009 or 2010 that showed that foreign drug cartels have reached the Philippines, but Foster interrupted her, saying there were surely other measures to stop drugs other than “shooting” the suspected drug personalities.

Collins noted that the Filipino citizens are the ones getting murdered, not the foreign drug traffickers cited by Sasot.

During the discussion, Sasot clarified that Duterte did not order to just “arbitrarily kill anyone” but ordered law enforcers to “only shoot if their life is in danger.”

Sasot then cited statistics – over 1 million people surrendered alive; 121,087 people were arrested alive; and 4,021 died during operations.  She underscored that drug pushers are armed, hence the cops’ need to defend themselves.

Foster butted in, saying that kids were also killed in the drug war, but Sasot cited how 618 minors were “rescued” from the illegal drug trade, a number that was not being cited by international media. She prompted, “Why is that?”

Collins told Sasot he did not know what she meant by “rescued” when pertaining to the minors, but what he knew, based on “lots and lots of evidence,” was that there were kids who could barely buy Snickers but were caught with a Glock pistol. He hit the fact that the same line of defense, the “nanlaban” defense, has been used by the cops over and over again.

“There is clearly a lot of impropriety happening around these extrajudicial killings,” Collins said.

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When Alcantara joined the discussion, he accused Sasot of leading the attack against him for condemning the killings in the Philippines, which she denied. She, in turn, accused him of threatening to deport Filipinos in the UK for supporting Duterte, which Alcantara denied.

Foster directed the discussion back to the Philippines’ war against drugs and how Collins is not in favor of Duterte’s drug war because he thought it won’t work.

Collins enumerated these reasons from the point of view of an academic who has been studying international drug policy for over a decade:

  •         Duterte’s drug war method has been proven to be ineffective as seen in the US with its incarceration of drug users and Thailand with its open killings in the early 2000s.
  •         It’s not about drugs. He said that as an external observer, he thinks Duterte’s drug war was about power play, his way of “solidifying his place at home” and his pursuit of “strongman politics.” He said that in the process, Duterte’s model of fighting the drug problem was about targeting “the most vulnerable” group that is also “the most loathed” group in society.

Sasot admitted that Duterte’s kind of drug war has been tried before, but in the case of the Philippines, it has led to over 1 million people surrendering to get rehabilitated.

Collins retorted, “It is not voluntary when the government is threatening to murder you if you don’t hand yourself in.”

Sasot tried to rebut that argument, saying Duterte did not threaten the drug addicts, but Foster also chimed in, saying he just recently watched an interview with Duterte where he said, “You destroy my country, I will kill you.”

Foster added, “That is threatening to murder somebody, isn’t it?”

Collins also cited how Duterte once said that Adolf Hitler murdered 3 million Jews and that he wanted to do the same, but Sasot explained it as Duterte’s way of playing along with the logic of the opposition who kept on comparing him to Hitler. The Philippine leader later apologized to the Jews for that remark.

Foster once again asked Sasot if Duterte was threatening to kill anyone, but she said it was Duterte’s way of expressing his intention to protect the country from anyone who would want to destroy it.

The host further pressed Sasot if Duterte’s recent remark can be interpreted as a threat to murder people, eventually prompting Sasot to ask, “But has he murdered anyone?”

Collins was quick to say, “By his own acknowledgment, yes.”

Foster also piped in, “Well, he says while he was mayor, he shot people.”

Alcantara also brought up how two witnesses, referring to Edgar Matobato and Arturo Lascañas, admitted to being members of the Davao Death Squad and confessed to Duterte’s involvement in the group.

Foster brought up another point of discussion in Sasot’s column about how some Filipinos are “disgusted” by Duterte’s method in dealing with the drug problem.

Prompted by Foster, Sasot said she understood the disgust, but that what Duterte is doing should be understood within the context of the circumstances in the Philippines.

Addressing Collins, she asked him if he speaks Filipino (no, he doesn’t); if he understands the Filipino culture (he has visited the Philippines, but won’t claim to say he has an expertise on the country); how many times he has visited the country (once); and if he has studied Philippine history, but Foster interrupted Sasot’s questioning.

As for the 1 million surrenderees, Foster said Duterte himself admitted that the Philippines cannot afford to build rehabilitation facilities. So, what is going to happen to the surrenderees, he asked.

Sasot said the surrenderees are going to “wait” to be rehabilitated and that this is when the international community should help the Philippines instead of condemning it.

Foster shot back, saying, “So you are saying that the international community must pay to follow through a policy, with which it disagrees, which is being brought upon by a President who is quite okay with killing people?”

Sasot then described the presence of the 1 million drug addicts in the Philippines as an “international humanitarian crisis.”

Collins addressed Sasot, saying that she “basically negated the idea” that he shouldn’t have any opinion on the drug war in the Philippines because he is not a Philippine expert. He went on to discuss about how drug treatment should be voluntary and community-based, something that the community should work on to manage their drug dependency.

He called the idea of rounding up a million surrenderees and asking the international community to help solve it as “ludicrous,” especially since people surrendered because they were scared of being murdered.

Alcantara joined in the discussion, accusing Duterte of not looking into the drug lords, citing how the P6.4 billion worth of drugs smuggled into the Philippines was even linked to Duterte’s son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte. He also talked about Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s allegation of Duterte hiding P2 billion in his bank account, something that the President denied.

Foster asked whether there is a possibility that the drug problem would resurface after Duterte’s term would end.

Sasot cited Duterte has a comprehensive policy to fight drug addiction and uplift the lives of ordinary Filipinos with the help of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Health.

But Collins posed a question to Sasot, asking her how the Philippines would become an economically and politically stable country without following the rule of law, citing violations such as the police’s lack of oversight, the rise of vigilantism because it seems to be encouraged, the murder on the streets, and the people being rounded up.

Sasot went back to her argument about how Duterte did not order cops to kill people, but only to protect themselves against criminals. She also clarified that vigilantism can be linked to the drug cartels, not to Duterte.

Foster ended the program noting the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s preliminary investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity committed by Duterte in his war against drugs, but without any recent word on whether or not it has jurisdiction over the communication or whether it has started interviewing people for the investigation.

Netizens react

Facebook page PRISM noted how Sasot “finally got the interview she has always wanted” but that “it did not go the way she wanted it to.”

Other netizens noted how Sasot initially told Collins his opinion on the drug war in the Philippines does not matter because he is not Filipino, but later said the international community should step in to help the 1 million drug surrenderees.

This is also something that Collins pointed out in the discussion.

 

Some hit Sasot’s logic in questioning Collins.

“By Sasot’s and DDS logic, we can’t condemn nor should form an opinion on Hitler and Germany since we can’t speak German nor an expert in German culture,” a Twitter user said. “Extending it farther, they curtail empathy for presumption of knowledge. Theirs is a very dangerous reasoning.”

Award-winning author Miguel Syjuco also slammed Sasot’s “shallow answers” during the Roundtable discussion to justify the killings in the country.

One thing he pointed out was this:

“If she spent any time in the streets, she’d know that many of the so-called 1-million surrenderees were motivated by fear as well as ignorance (many thought they’d be given handouts, and didn’t consider themselves addicts); she’d also know that drug rehab programs came from the Catholic Church, NGOs, and local communities because the national government hardly did anything beyond enforcing a law-and-order solution to a public health problem. (For example, the nation’s largest drug rehab program, in Bicutan, can still only service capacity of 600 patients.) How do I know? I went and witnessed.”

Sources: ( interaksyon.com )

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PSG chief refuses to apologize to Rappler: In their dreams! Sila mag-apologize sa sundalo ko

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Presidential Security Group (PSG) commander Brigadier General Lope Dagoy refused to issue an apology to online news site Rappler for saying that one of its reporters should be thankful his PSG guard did not hurt her.

On February 21, Rappler demanded an apology from Dagoy after the PSG chief said Rappler Palace beat reporter Pia Ranada should be thankful his PSG personnel did not hurt her after she persistently questioned the guard on who ordered to bar herher from entering the Palace premises on February 20.

In response to Rappler’s demand, Dagoy said the apology should come from Rappler instead.

He also challenged Rappler to show the public the whole video of what really unfolded between Ranada and PSG personnel Corporal Marc Anthony Cempron.

“You see how selective they are in finding fault at me without giving the people the whole picture of the incident. I challenge Rappler that they present the whole video to the public and let them decide who between us made the grievous mistake on what transpired during the incident,” Dagoy said in his statement.

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“Imagine namili lang ng portion of the incident then project me already as the bad guy? Tama ba ‘yan? Ganyan na ba ang standard ng media investigation ng Rappler? Me to apologize? In their dreams! Sila ang mag-apologize sa sundalo ko,” he added.

In an interview with Communications Secretary Mocha Uson, Dagoy said, “Pasalamat kayo hindi kayo sinaktan sa pambabastos na ginawa niyo.”

In a text message to Ranada, Dagoy also told her, “It was good that my soldier did not hit you when you were bullying him.”

Ranada denied “bullying” the PSG guard, saying that she was only her usual “persistent” and “makulit” self while asking questions.

Rappler denounced the PSG chief’s statement.

“Dagoy’s statement is conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman, coming as it did from a soldier who took his oath to defend civilians, who stands closest to the seat of power, and who serves an organization that has shown, time and again, its respect for and appreciation of civilian institutions such as Rappler,” the news site said in a statement.

“We ask General Dagoy to apologize for his outburst or for his superiors to take him to task for threatening to use force outside the battlefield,” it added.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier called out Dagoy for his remarks against Ranada, saying that the “PSG had no right to harm Rappler’s people or threaten them.”

After making some calls, it was later revealed that the order to stop Ranada from entering the Palace premises came from President Rodrigo Duterte himself. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also said that the President got irritated at Ranada for writing “fake news,” hence the order to prohibit her from entering Malacañang.

Ranada has been assigned to cover Duterte since the campaign for the 2016 elections.

 

Sources: ( news.abs-cbn.comgmanetwork.com )

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