The World Today for August 19, 2021



Truth & Consequences

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court want to investigate whether people died unjustly in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

“Information…suggests that state actors, primarily members of the Philippine security forces, killed thousands of suspected drug users and other civilians during official law enforcement operations,” wrote prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, according to the Washington Post. “Markedly similar crimes were committed outside official police operations, reportedly by so-called ‘vigilantes,’ although information suggests that some vigilantes were in fact police officers, while others were private citizens recruited, coordinated and paid by police to kill civilians.”

The investigation would examine killings from 2016, when Duterte took office, to 2019, when he withdrew the Philippines from the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction. Philippine authorities estimate that Duterte’s crackdown on drugs has claimed 6,000 lives while human rights groups think as many as 30,000 killings have occurred.

Some of those killed in the drug war were interred in leased graves that are now expiring, Agence France-Presse wrote.

Duterte has dared the court to put him on trial. “I have never denied, and the ICC can record it: Those who destroy my country, I will kill you,” the 76-year-old said in a recent State of the Union address covered by Reuters. “Those who destroy the young people of our country, I will kill you. I will really finish you because I love my country.”

He has also ignored a Philippine court’s ruling that he is supposed to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. But Amnesty International hoped that international prosecutors would proceed with or without his assistance in order to build a case against him. Philippine human rights activists, meanwhile, have also spoken out against Duterte’s policies, the Philippines-based, English-language Inquirer reported.

Duterte, 76, came to power as a populist who said he would rid the streets of crimes in the Philippines. He immediately drew criticism for his misogynist remarks, as VICE News chronicled, and the brutality he vowed to unleash against criminals. And while Duterte has provided the world with plenty of color, he has also presided over the economy tanking due to the coronavirus pandemic as well as rampant corruption. As the Diplomat noted, top brass in Philippine law enforcement is involved in the drug trade.

Duterte is not eligible for reelection when his term expires in 2022 but he has floated the notion of serving as vice president under his daughter, Sara Duterte, who is a leading contender for president, as NikkeiAsia explained.

Voters will decide if they want more of the same.

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