On the International Criminal Court’s release of its Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2020, stating that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) anticipates reaching a decision on whether to seek authorization to open an investigation into the situation in the Philippines in the first half of 2021, Philippine Coalition on the International Criminal Court (PCICC) spokesperson, Dr. Aurora Parong, said:
“This finding of the Office of the Prosecutor is a significant step in the right direction which opens up a clear avenue of justice for victims of extrajudicial executions in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
“The OTP has reported that they are now determining whether or not national criminal investigations and prosecutions on the killings are being done in the Philippines. Failure or inability to conduct criminal prosecutions would mean that the OTP will be left with no choice but to ask the ICC to approve a request to open an investigation into the situation in the Philippines on one of the most serious crimes under its jurisdiction, particularly crimes against humanity. This aspect of the examination is the admissibility phase.
“Drug offenders coming from poor and marginalized communities continue to be killed even during the pandemic. The killings are covered up by falsified police reports, and families of victims continue to live in fear, helpless in pursuing justice.
“It is deplorable that the Presidential spokesperson said that it is just going to be a ‘waste of money and time’ for the ICC to conduct an investigation in the Philippines. Every human life is important, whoever that person is. The right to life is for everyone. Even Philippine laws prohibit extra-judicial killings. Families of victims deserve investigation of the circumstances of the killings of their kin. If national bodies in the country are not providing that, then all the more that the ICC should look into the alleged crimes in the bloody war on drugs.”