Lawyers for the relatives of victims of President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drugs campaign submitted additional evidence with the International Criminal Court (ICC) as the tribunal continued examining allegations of crimes against humanity against the President.
The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) submitted a 16-page supplemental pleading to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Thursday, its second follow-up filing since lodging a complaint before the Hague-based court last year.
The NUPL asked the prosecutor to admit as evidence official figures on deaths in drug-related police operations, which the group alleged were "manipulated" by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to cover actual statistics and "shield the perpetrators."
The NUPL also requested Bensouda take into consideration the killing of at least 74 minors during police operations and a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)-authorized investigation into deaths in the Philippines.
Filed on behalf of the families of eight victims of the drug war in August 2018, the NUPL communication called for Duterte's indictment for thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings. A Filipino lawyer filed a similar pleading in 2017; the ICC is examining both.
In its supplemental filing, the NUPL accused the police of underreporting data, citing a June 18, 2019 command conference in which the PNP said 6,600 people linked to the illegal drugs trade were killed, and the interagency Real Numbers PH's announcement weeks later that the death toll was at 5,526.
The lawyers' group also cited cases of minors being killed or arrested in the course of anti-drug operations, including Kian delos Santos, whose policemen killers were sentenced to reclusion perpetua last year in the first conviction of implementers of the bloody campaign.
"Children are not simply 'collateral damage,' whose loss of innocence and lives can be discounted in order to win the 'war on drugs,'" the NUPL said.
The NUPL also urged Bensouda to cooperate and share information with the UNHRC, which passed an Iceland-led resolution last July seeking a probe of killings in the context of the Philippine drug war.
Furthermore, the NUPL once again urged the ICC prosecutor to open an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in the Philippines.
Duterte has repeatedly claimed that the ICC had no jurisdiction over him and pulled the country out of the tribunal's establishing treaty, the Rome Statute, effective earlier this year. However, the withdrawal did not not stop the ongoing preliminary examination of the allegations.
The President's decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute has also been challenged before the Philippine Supreme Court. — DVM, GMA News