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Eleazar: Duterte administration should face ICC probe

Former Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief and senatorial aspirant Guillermo Eleazar said on Tuesday that President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration should not hide anything when the International Criminal Court (ICC) resumes its investigation on the drug war.

“Para sa akin, wala naman tayong dapat itago. From the very start, even as the PNP is in the middle of these controversies, ang aking panindigan nung una pa man ay kung tama, tama, ang mali ay mali. Wala dapat tayong itago. At kung may pagkakamali, wag nating paninindigan,” he said in an ANC television news channel interview.

(For me, we should not hide anything. From the very start, even as the PNP is in the middle of these controversies, my stance is that right is right and wrong is wrong. If we have made a mistake, then we should not stand for it.)

In September, the ICC opened its investigation on the request of then-prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to probe crimes “allegedly committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the so-called 'war on drugs' campaign.”

On Friday, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor suspended the investigation into the Duterte administration’s alleged crimes against humanity as the Philippine government requested the ICC to defer to a government investigation on these alleged rights violations.

Accountable for their actions

When asked if Duterte and Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa should face the ICC investigation, Eleazar said that every Filipino should be held accountable for their actions.

“Lagi namang parehas pag may imbestigasyon and they will be afforded our own defense regarding this. Para sa akin, ibabalik ko ito that the sense of accountability ng bawat isa, hindi lang ng pulis, pero every citizen ay dapat accountable sa kanilang gagawin,” he said.

(Everyone is treated fairly when there are investigations and they will be afforded a defense regarding this. For me, I will bring back the sense of accountability for everyone, not just the police, but every citizen should be accountable for their actions.)

“Even sa atin ngayon, domestically, kung merong imbestigasyon we welcome that. In fact, we encourage that para wag naman unfairly maisama yung mga taong nagtatrabaho nang maayos dito,” he added.

(Even today, even a domestic investigation, we welcome that. In fact, we encourage that so that those who are working properly would not be unfairly affected.)

Both Duterte and Dela Rosa Dela Rosa were mentioned in the ICC pre-trial chamber’s 41-page decision authorizing the opening of a full investigation into the Duterte administration’s drug war.

Dela Rosa served as the chief PNP when Duterte was elected into office in 2016 and implemented Oplan Tokhang as part of the administration’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.

However, Duterte insisted that he would only face a Philippine court amid the ICC probe. And if he should be imprisoned for the killings, it should be in a Philippine jail.

Drug testing

Amid the calls for Eleksyon 2022 aspirants to undergo mandatory drug testing due to the recent claim by Duterte that there was a presidential aspirant who was using cocaine, Eleazar said that drug testing should still be voluntary.

“Kanya-kanyang ano ‘yan, kasi wala naman sa batas na pipilitin mo. Pero, maganda rin na magkusang-loob tayo. Pangit kasing sabihing mandatory kasi sinasabi nga pwedeng maging abuso ‘yan doon sa mga susunod,” he said.

(It depends because no law compels testing. But it would be better to volunteer. It does not look good if we say it’s mandatory because it may be abused next time.)

Eleazar encouraged his fellow candidates to undergo voluntary drug testing, noting that making it mandatory is already up to the Commission on Elections.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez however clarified that substance abuse was not grounds for an election candidate's disqualification.

“Kung sabihin nila na sa tingin nila tama ‘yon without violating our constitution kasi ibabalik pa rin do’n eh. Pero kung magpasa sila ng batas na sa tingin nila is papasa or merong guidelines na not in contradiction with the rights or human rights or ‘yung sa ating provision of the constitution, eh di sabihin nila yun,” he said.

(If they think that is right without violating our constitution or if they will pass a law with guidelines that will not violate our human rights or the provisions of the constitution, then so be it.)

Death penalty

Eleazar said that he was against the revival of the death penalty in the country, emphasizing that arresting immediately is still the best form of crime prevention.

“Sa atin, lagi nating nirerespeto ang buhay. Talagang tayo ay, tinuro sa ating lahat ‘yan. In fact, I’m after ma-improve ‘yung criminal justice system natin. Para sa akin, ‘yung mga krimen, ‘yung mga kriminal na nahuhuli kaagad at napapanagutan ito ay, in essence, that is the best crime prevention,” he said.

(We respect life, that is what is taught to us. I’m after improving our criminal justice system. For me, arresting the criminals and making them liable for their crimes is the best crime prevention.)

Pressed if his views included high-level drug traffickers, Eleazar said, “Sama-sama na ‘yan kasi ang point natin dito is, ang sabi nga natin, (That is already included because as we say) unless we have a perfect justice system, it’s better to acquit 10 guilty persons rather than to make suffer or convict one innocent man.”

Eleazar is running for senator in Eleksyon 2022 under Partido Reporma, along with the Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III tandem. — DVM, GMA News