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Lagman: House reso cannot cleanse Duterte of his ‘crimes’

The proposed House resolution defending former President Rodrigo Duterte from the International Criminal Court (ICC) probe on alleged crimes against humanity cannot “cleanse” his administration’s record on drug war deaths, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said Friday.

Lagman issued the statement in reaction to House Resolution 780 filed by former President and Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Arroyo and other administration lawmakers which disputed Duterte’s responsibility over the drug war deaths

Instead, the House resolution praised Duterte’s presidency “for remarkable accomplishments brought about by his relentless campaign against illegal drugs, insurgency, separatism and terrorism, corruption in government and criminality thus making the life of every Filipino better, comfortable and peaceful.”

“Although the verbiage of House Resolution 780 urges the House of Representatives to defend Duterte against the resumption of the investigation of the ICC prosecutors, it does not deny that from 6,000 to 30,000 alleged drug suspects, mostly from the marginalized sectors, have been summarily killed in the wake of Duterte’s murderous campaign against illegal drugs,” Lagman said.

Authorities said only around 6,000 drug suspects were killed in police operations.

“Considering the default of the Philippine justice system in favor of Duterte, the proper forum now is the ICC which has jurisdiction over covered crimes committed before the Philippines conveniently withdrew from the Rome Statute at the behest of Duterte himself,” he added.

Lagman was referring to the Philippines’ ICC pullout in March 2018

“While the justice system in the Philippines is functioning, the fact is not a single case has been filed and prosecuted against Duterte for his alleged crimes against humanity,” Lagman said.

‘Welcome development’

But for Senator Ronald dela Rosa who is also being investigated by the ICC being the chief of the Philippine National Police during the Duterte administration, the filing of House Resolution 780 is a welcome development.

“I am very grateful to our colleagues in the House of Representatives, especially to Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Arroyo for spearheading the said Resolution,” Dela Rosa said.

“I can not do the same in the Senate since it is very self serving on my part being a co- accused with the former President,” he added.

In late January, Duterte stood firm on his anti-illegal drug campaign.

“Since when was it a crime for a sovereign head of state for me to threaten criminals? Sabi ko if you destroy my country, I will kill you," he said in an interview on SMNI network.

“You know, you take an oath to protect the people. How can I protect you with just empty words? If I have to kill those who’d want to harm you, then so be it,” he Duterte.

The Philippines has already asked for the deferment of the ICC probe by mainly arguing that the wheels of justice in the country are working, but the ICC is yet to decide on such an appeal by the Philippines. — Llanesca T. Panti/RSJ, GMA Integrated News