MANILA –A noted practicing Filipino-American lawyer based in Washington has said the complaint filed against President Rodrigo R. Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged “crime against humanity” is “pure political propaganda”.
Atty. Arnedo S. Valera, chair of the US Pinoys for Real Change in the Philippines (USPRCP), who is also a well-known immigration lawyer, reacted on the filing of a criminal case against the President by lawyer Jude Sabio.
“This complaint before the ICC is pure political propaganda. These individuals and groups seem to be suffering from legal myopia in engaging into a political definition of ‘crimes against humanity’,” Arnedo said in a statement e-mailed to this writer.
“Unlike other international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity have not been codified in an international treaty. And thus, the definition of crime vs humanity that they subscribe to reflects a weakness in customary international law and is problematic under international criminal law.”
Arnedo reminded Sabio that “the Duterte government is facing a drug war of two kinds. First, the war between the government forces vs drug lords, drug cartels, police scalawags, corrupt politicians engaged in the drug trade, including Senator (Leila) De Lima”, who is under police custody for an alleged drug case.
The Fil-Am lawyer maintained that “these are legitimate police operations, and our police and military under the Philippine Constitution are duty bound to enforce the law vs individuals and powerful groups who have created this drug menace that threatens the very existence of our nation and destroying the future of the next generation”.
Arnedo said the second drug war being tackled by the government “is the war between and among drug lords vs drug cartels, vigilantes, police scalawags, corrupt politicians, all non-state actors trying to kill and outdo each other to protect their territory and multi-billion drug trade all over the world, and the Philippines is part of this international drug hub. And this has caused a number of killings, including innocent bystanders and even children caught in the crossfire.”
“Hence, if you attribute the 7,000 alleged killings, which included common crimes of murder, homicide that are non-drug-related committed by criminals, (using the abused EJK term or extrajudicial killings) to President Duterte, the PNP (Philippine National Police) and the military, then you destroy the valid notion of accountability of these non-state actors and it will lead you to a wrong conclusion,” he said.
Besides, Arnedo articulated that “there are no state sponsored killings under the Duterte Administration. There are no crimes against humanity under the 1945 London Charter, the Rome Statute, Article 7(1), the Statute of International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Ruanda under Article 3, the Statute of Special Court for Sierra Leone Article 2, the Law on Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Article 5.”
He asked, ”Why did they not use the crimes against humanity doctrine in drug-related wars and killings in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, etc. where the civilian populations are caught in the crossfire and those killed, including women and children, are in exponential geometric proportions? They should stop becoming part of the narrative of political de-stabilizers, and in the end, weakening the base of a legitimate national drug war.”
“It is a shame that they are allowing themselves as political pawns and are engaging in interference in the national criminal justice system of the Philippines and the democratic governance of our nation,” Arnedo concluded.