Duterte sued for EJKs at int’l court

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Palace: Complaint filed by Matobato lawyer ‘baseless’

Lawyer Jude Sabio at The Hague

A criminal case was filed against President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, Netherlands for his alleged involvement in extrajudicial killings when he was still mayor of Davao City, and now as President of the Philippines.

In the 77-page communication submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, Jude Sabio, lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, accused Duterte of violating the Articles of the Rome Statute through mass murder or extrajudicial executions, which, he claimed, constituted crimes against humanity.

Duterte allegedly committed the crimes during his tenure as mayor of Davao City, through his personal involvement in the so-called Davao Death Squad, and now as President of the Philippines through his war on drugs.


The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC, the first permanent international court that is capable of trying perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression—the statute’s four core international crimes.

The Philippines is a state party to the Rome Statute, together with other 123 state parties, after ratifying it in August 2011.

Apart from Duterte, 11 of his allies including two senators were also charged for violating provisions of the Rome Statute.

Others facing charges at the ICC are Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Richard Gordon, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd, Police National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald de la Rosa, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, Supt. Edilberto Leonardo, Senior Police Officer 4 Sanson “Sonny” Buenaventura, Supt. Royina Garma, National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran, and Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Sabio said Gordon, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and sponsor of Senate Committee Report No. 18196 on the spate of summary execution of suspected drug trader, is liable for “ultimately concluding that killings are not state-sponsored.”

He added that Cayetano aided and abetted the killings “through his speeches and public pronouncements.”
Sabio cited in his complaint the similarities in the killings in Davao City and in the drug war.

“The basic material hallmarks or elements in the extrajudicial executions by the Davao Death Squad in Davao City and in the continued extrajudicial executions after President Duterte became the President are too numerous and too obvious to escape scant attention,” he said.

He noted the presence police participation and command; the element of a hitman or an unknown armed assailant; the establishment of a reward system for every killing; the existence of a kill watch list; collaboration between barangay (village) and police officials; cardboard signs and faces or bodies wrapped in packing tape; the use of motorcycle-riding assailants; and planting of guns and drugs.

Sabio said Duterte had completely ignored the appeals of local and international human rights groups and other international bodies to stop the killings.

Also, Duterte’s officials and allies have become instruments in covering up the issue in the media and congressional investigations.

“It is for these reasons that I have referred this case to the ICC to make President Duterte accountable for his crimes in the name of international criminal justice, and to once and for all end this dark, obscene, murderous and evil era in the Philippines,” Sabio said.

After filing the case, the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, will determine whether it falls within the jurisdiction of the ICC and if it is proper to file criminal charges against the accused, before investigating the case and issuing a warrant of arrest against the President and other respondents.

Palace: Complaint ‘baseless’

Malacañang on Monday dismissed as “baseless” the complaint filed against President Duterte before the ICC in The Hague.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella suspected that the filing of the case was “meant to create negative news” amid the Philippines’ hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

“It cannot prosper. International Criminal Court rules provide that the ICC, as a court of last resort, will only exercise jurisdiction over a case once legal remedies in the Philippines have been exhausted. Atty. Sabio or his client, Mr. Edgardo Matobato, did not avail/exhaust all domestic remedies allowed under the Philippine Constitution,” Abella said.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said such complaint would not flourish because there was no basis to allege that Duterte had ordered the extrajudicial killings.

Panelo noted that under the international treaty, murder should have been committed against a class of people, which was not the case in Sabio’s complaint.

“It is not a state-sponsored war in respect to the extrajudicial killings. The [extrajudicial killings]come up because of members of the syndicates who are killing each other, they’re spilling the beans against their own comrades. Those in danger of being prosecuted and arrested would necessarily silence those who are pointing fingers at them,” he told reporters.

“Even assuming that there is police participation in these killings, the police records would show that those who have abused their authority were charged in court. That will negate the claim that it is state-initiated. Otherwise they would have not been charged,” he added.

Matobato last year confessed before the Philippine Senate that he was part of the so-called Davao Death Squad, which was allegedly formed by Duterte to eliminate political opponents and drug addicts.

The ICC complaint was based on the testimonies of Matobato, retired policeman Arturo Lascañas, media reports and reports from rights groups.

Almost 9,000 people have been killed since Duterte assumed the presidency in June 2016.

WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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17 Comments

  1. Who neglected their duty and let this drug problem destroy the lives of people and families in our country anyway? They even let the drug trade run in national penitentiaries! This is what we have become after BS Aquino III’s DemoCrazy leadership.

    Mr.Sabio and his bosses are enshrining themselves as the people who tried to destroy our country again but little did they know that they are now more irrelevant than ever and will forever be forgotten by the Filipinos for good.

    Lord, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.

  2. John Chameleon on

    The ICC knows that the case emanates from a group out to get Duterte’s head, the oligarchs and unscrupulous political opposition particularly the illegal drug trade protectors. ICC knows the significance of their responsibility and it can’t just handle this lightly. and fell through to puerile decisions in accommodating preposterous political adventurism.

    Setting a wrong precedent for the world to follow would be a disaster for the ICC. All political opposition would be manufacturing evidences and hiring witnesses for a fee and then file a case immediately to them withould even trying to resolve the problem in local courts.

    Was there a case against humanity? Of course, there was none. Deaths of the drug lords, pushers and addicts were the result of armed resistance against lawful arrests. But more than half of the dead came from the syndicates themselves in their cleansing maneuver and motive to stain the war on drugs of the President.

    BBC even had covered the murders done by the syndicates, some were done by police elements who are members of the syndicates. ICC knows this infiltration of the PNP by drug traders during the term of Aquino who allowed the proliferation to happen. With an impeachment case filed in Congress against the President, how can ICC say that cases against Duterte are not holding ground in the Philippines.

    If there must be a case against humanity, it should be filed against Aquino who abandoned his duty to protect the country from the invasion of illegal drugs putting millions of youth and citizens of the country into a dark future.

  3. The ICC is intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore only exercise its jurisdiction when certain conditions are met, such as when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or when the United Nations Security Council or individual states refer investigations to the Court. (Wikipedia)

    In the case of the Philippines, the President as a general rule is immune from suit. He May be prosecuted or be removed from office only through impeachment proceedings. Magdalo group had already filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte and it was accepted by the congress albeit it has not yet been endorsed. Much hearings have been conducted by the senate regarding the accusations of EJK against the President. But until now, nothing has been proven against him. The hearings only exposed that the evidence against him are all fabricated, like Lascañas journal. The justice system in our country is not inutile. The allegations against the President is being addressed to.

    Clearly now, Sabio cannot claim that our national court is unwilling or unable to prosecute Duterte. That’s one jurisdictional fact lacking in his complaint.

    Meanwhile, no state has referred the Duterte case for investigation. Neither has UNSC conducted Preliminary Investigation on the matter. Now that’s double whammy for Sabio! The ICC can never have jurisdiction over Duterte’s case.

    And yes, anyone can file complaints. Even my neighbors can do it. The problem is, does the ICC take jurisdiction? Will the case prosper with the kind of evidence Sabio has right now?

    It’s a long shot for you Sabio ang cohorts. For sure there will also be consequences for your actions. It’s the People of the Philippines you are offending. You will surely face the WRATH of the People. We’ll get to you later. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the show and see how you embarrass yourself in the international scene.

  4. The world should be concerned about the ICC. Its formation might do more harm than good to the world. There are seemingly cracks in its purpose. Have they thought that ICC can be used by malicious jealous personalities?

    I say, the Philippines must distance itself from the ICC because it interferes with our sovereignty as a free nation. It shackles our neck with chains pulling us to the directions where they wanted us to be like dogs. It enslaves us. Let’s not give in to another form of colonialism.

  5. about time the philippines had experience of the long arm of law.
    duterte will no doubt play the coward as usual.
    all mouth, no trousers.

    • since when that anyone understand how Law is practiced in the Philippines. Lawyers themselves are proponent of lawlessness and the many so called politicians are crooks and unlawful and majority only run for govt position to enrich themselves. You have to have money otherwise no one can get justice at all.

    • This Presdent has broken the record, he won the Presidency because of the many lawlessness many Filipinos has sufferred,Tthru the Almighty God mercy I hope he will be given the strength and perseverance to reject all evildoers who may try to harm him.

  6. Leopoldo Mayo on

    This lawyer Jude Sabio must be out of his mind and just means to strut in the world stage representing self-confessed hitman and multiple killer Edgar Matobato. They are, in effect, accusing President Rodrigo Duterte as well as his top law enforcers of having made Matobato et al do all of those hundreds of killings, a sort of “I killed hundreds of them but it wasn’t my fault because I was unschooled and ignorant and the Devil himself made me do it” extrajudicial confession–an exasperatingly tall tale that should become a classic in the world’s records of mindless hoaxes. In reality though, Sabio and Matobato are neither representing themselves nor the Filipino people before the International Court of Justice but primarily two desperate but slyly unnamed conspirators who are both disreputable elective government officials: detained Sen. Leila de Lima who is facing serious criminal charges for allegedly colluding with drug-lord convicts inside the National Penitentiary to raise funds for her 2016 senatorial candidacy when she was the country’s Secretary of Justice, and Sen. Antonio Trillanes, a convicted life-termer for rebellion who was illegally pardoned by the former Philippine president to serve as his highly paid rabid attack dog and hitman against his political enemies. These two are the real main dramatis personae in this pseudo-morality tale brought to the International Court of Justice by a lawyer who couldn’t even write a decent, competent, and credible-sounding covering letter for the sweeping accusations he has lodged against so many Philippine government officials breaking their backs to serve the Filipino people.

  7. Attention seeking. Best thing to do with these propaganda is ignoring them. Dear respectable author, this isn’t news please stop writing about it and them. Criminals and self confessed murderers do not deserve recognition of existence.

  8. The impression this anti-Duterte effort leaves is something akin to desperation.

    These people seem obliged to at least cough up a token effort at resistance. Huwag lang masabi na hindi pumalag.

    They’ve been using the same old EJK issue. It’s just like a losing boxer hitting again and again at the same spot in the blind, wishful hope it will SOMEHOW work. Have they run out of options?

    To whom is the EJK news intended? The people, who consistently stand behind the president the entire time the news was rolling? The international community, which is already pouring in investment pledges? Who exactly are they trying to convince? The exact same clique who is likely averse to Duterte to begin with?

    These people seem to be merely running a loop, consoling and kidding their own selves, whenever they run this tired old EJK trick.

    If they really value human life, what of the whole rest of crimes? What of sweeping inequality?What of the SAF 44? What of those who died and those who continue to suffer from Yolanda?

  9. Arlene Rafiq on

    In addition to my earlier comments, the ICC as an international governmental body, who are supposed to be intelligent people shouldn’t be giving credence to criminals and oppositions testimonies as surely they are biased and using the ICC to get back to power at the expense of the President of the Republic of the Philippines. Is the ICC relying more on trolls rather than the 76% approval rating of this president? The majority of Filipinos want this president to continue his pro-poor development projects and not the years of corruptions by the trolls and government of Noy Aquino.

  10. Arlene Rafiq on

    The International Commission on Human Rights should first and foremost practice humanitarianism. It is so unfair to give credence to the oppositions and treat their statements as bible truth and condemn the president of the Philippines. Don’t you realize that it’s common sense that the oppositions will try everything in their power to besmirch the reputation of President Rodrigo Duterte for obvious reasons? They are hungry for power. The years of corruptions are finally over. The approval rating should be your guideline if the president is doing his job and not the trolling of the good for nothing fake Philippine VP, trouble maker senator, Trillanes and drama queen Leila D5 among other trolls. This president may have a foul mouth but working very hard to give the Filipinos a better life. After Marcos, the government did nothing to improve the Philippines…President Duterte only after a few months in office have done so much that no president has ever done before. So please, International Commission on Human Rights, come to the Philippines without an invitation from the trolls and see for yourself that it’s safer to walk the streets of Manila..it’s not just fun in the Philippines, you will be treated with respect and hospitality never seen in other countries. About the addicts, pushers, drug lords and cuddlers who rape even babies, kidnap your friends or family for ransom but killed eventually, should they be left unpunished? Because killing them is in your dictionary inhumane? Give us a break…wouldn’t it be a sudden impulse to kill a criminal if a member of your family is raped or killed? So before you listen to fake do-gooders, use your common sense. It is very clear..President Duterte said many times, “do not destroy my country and the youth of the land because if you do, I will kill you!” and the hypocrites and stupids readily said that this president is a murderer. Enough said.

  11. Walang power ang ICC na yan, ni hindi nila nakanti ang Syria, Iraq, north korea, Burma, Thailand, Saudi, America na mas madaming human rights violation at killings

  12. dating kriminal on

    The way I look at the accusations of the complainants, their case is weak, a very weak case that CANNOT be proven beyond reasonable doubt. The backgrounds and motives of Mr. Matobato and retired policeman Arturo Lascanas alone, can induce doubts to the judges at the International Court, that their case will be voted against.

    PDU30 should continue to get rid of all these drug addicts / runners / distributors / manufacturers / politicians and everybody that is benefitting and profiting from this deadly chemicals. All methods in getting rid of all these people should be used at the advantage of the government, meaning, don’t take any prisoners because the government budget can easily drained before getting a single conviction.

  13. Mario B. Capangpangan on

    LET IT BE KNOWN! Especially to Atty. Sabio…Duterte is a God-anointed President! No human being or organization, be it an international one, can ever put him down or remove him from power! God bless the rising Philippines under his governance!

  14. Aphetsky Lasa on

    “The ICC complaint was based on the testimonies of Matobato, retired policeman Arturo Lascañas, media reports and reports from rights groups.”

    And we are supposed to believe that these reports are credible. Both Matobato and Lascanas have been found to lie during the Senate hearings. Human rights advocates? They are just as fake as the news from the media. Baseless and self-serving. Well, bring it on!