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Opposition feeding wrong info to ICC regarding drug war — PDEA chief

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Wilkins Villanueva on Wednesday claimed that members of the opposition were feeding the International Criminal Court with data in connection with the government's war against illegal drugs.

"Political opposition, sila ang mga mag-aano doon... remember ha, kung dito talaga kinukuha ang data na 'yan eh how come na 91% ang approval rating ni Presidente and how come eight out of ten Filipinos approved the war on drugs of the President," Villanueva told reporters.

He did not specify who among the opposition were supposedly providing data to the ICC.

Villanueva further alleged that the opposition was feeding wrong information to the ICC to taint the image of the Duterte administration.

"Para papangitin ang administration so that meron silang chance [in] the next election, kasi right now parang wala silang chance ngayon because nagkakasabay-sabay kasi 'yung success stories," he said.

"Right now talagang all they have to do is talagang sisirain nila 'yung incumbent and 'yung proyekto ng gobyerno so 'yun ang pwede nilang magawa," Villanueva added.

The latest report of the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor indicated that there is "reasonable basis" to believe that crimes against humanity were committed under President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Crimes against humanity

Villanueva questioned why the Duterte administration is being linked to crimes against humanity.

"'Yung crimes against humanity parang nasa level 'yan ng holocaust eh, holocaust, 'yung sa Khmer Rouge ng Cambodia, eh wala namang nangyayaring ganoon dito sa Pilipinas," Villanueva said.

"At the same time, papasok lang dapat ang ICC kung hindi nagpa-function ang judicial branch natin," he added.

The PDEA chief maintained that only 5,942 suspected drug personalities were killed in the government's war on drugs.

The ICC's Office of the Prosecutor has focused its preliminary examination on the allegations that Duterte and law enforcement officials "have actively promoted and encouraged the killing of suspected or purported drug users and/or dealers."

Its latest report stated that there seemed to be a limited number of investigations and prosecutions initiated and in some cases completed at the national level on the direct perpetrators of certain criminal conduct that allegedly took place amid the drug war.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the PDEA said ICC’s report was “grossly unfair, unjustifiable and one-sided.”

“The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) remains skeptical on how the ICC came up with their findings solely on the basis of open-source information. Like all other well-founded reports, the ICC report should show proof and undergo the standard validation and vetting process before arriving at any firm conclusions,” it said.

The PDEA said the ICC should have waited for the release of the report of an inter-agency panel created by the Department of Justice to investigate the drug-related killings rather than issuing general statements “that are yet to be proven without the aid of a formal and local investigation.”

“PDEA is optimistic that the ICC judges will decide against pursuing an open investigation into the situation in the Philippines predicated on the principle applied on the previous rulings of its pre-trial chamber due to the absence of cooperation from the accused country, where the ICC has territorial jurisdiction.”

Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said that ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s appreciation of the incidents linked to the controversial drug campaign was "legally erroneous."

The Philippine National Police, for its part, said pieces of evidence are needed to show that human rights violations and abuses were really committed by state forces in the drug war. — with Ma. Angelica Garcia/RSJ/BM, GMA News