Posts Tagged ‘President Rodrigo Duterte’

Philippines: Supreme Court justices accused of prejudice, bias against Chief Justice after Duterte says he is “her enemy” — Questions about neutrality and impartial judges, fairness of procedure

April 10, 2018
Five justices look ready to hang Chief Justice without hearing evidence after President says he is “her enemy”
Image result for fingers on the scales of justice

Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) – April 10, 2018 – 1:42pm

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The five Supreme Court justices accused of “prejudice” and “bias” against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno refused to take their hands off the ouster petition against her.

Last week, Sereno filed five separate motions for inhibition against Associate Justices Teresita De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam to recuse from Solicitor General Jose Calida’s petition for quo warranto.

READ: Sereno seeks De Castro’s ‘mandatory’ inhibition from ouster petition

Shortly before the high court held its oral arguments on the case, Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said: “All the motions for inhibition were denied for lack of merit.

Carpio said that the justices will “explain themselves” when they issue their respective resolutions.

Reasons for the motion

The five justices appeared as resource speakers at the House of Representatives justice panel’s hearing on the impeachment case against Sereno.

The chief justice, in her motions, cited several of her colleagues’ testimonies and accused them of bias and prejudice. She said that the justices “cannot decide the quo warranto petition objectively and impartially.”

“Due process of law requires a hearing before an impartial and disinterested tribunal, and that every litigant is entitled to nothing less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge,” she added.

The justices also participated at the so-called “Red Monday” at the SC. Reports citing unnamed sources said that employees and officials of the high court wore red on the SC’s flag raising ceremony—since Sereno’s leave from court—to call for her resignation.

On Monday, Sereno said in a public speech that De Castro told her: “I will never forgive you for accepting the chief justice-ship.”

Sereno and Calida will face off at 2:00 p.m. at the SC Session Hall in Baguio City for oral debates.

This is the first time Sereno will address allegations against her.

She is also facing a separate impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, that is pending for a vote in the House plenary.

On Monday, Sereno tagged President Rodrigo Duterte as the man behind the two ouster petitions against her.

The firebrand leader, shortly after Sereno made the remark, lashed out and warned the chief justice that he is “her enemy” now. The chief executive also “ordered” the leaders of the legislative branch to hasten the impeachment of Sereno, head of the judiciary.

The legislative and judiciary branches, under the Constitution, conduct the checks and balances on the executive branch of the government.

MARIA LOURDES SERENOQUO WARRANTO PETITIONSUPREME COURT

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/04/10/1804618/five-justices-refuse-inhibit-ouster-petition-against-sereno#wRQFL1JxKFSkdBqy.99

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Philippines says it still abides by rule of law

March 31, 2018

 

United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who has been labeled a terrorist by the Duterte administration, recently urged Italians to help stop what she described as “fascism” in the Philippines. AFP/File

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) – April 1, 2018 – 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday disputed the claim of United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz that the Philippine government has become authoritarian, saying the rule of law still prevails in the country.

Corpuz, who has been labeled a terrorist by the Duterte administration, recently urged Italians to help stop what she described as “fascism” in the Philippines.

Speaking to delegates of the Human Rights Festival in Milan last March 25, Corpuz said the “authoritarian” government in the Philippines is controlling Congress and is going against institutions formed to balance the executive branch.

Corpuz cited the impeachment petition filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and the arrest and detention of Sen. Leila de Lima, a vocal critic of President Duterte, on charges related to illegal drugs.

Those who want Sereno removed alleged that she failed to meet the 10-year requirement for the filing of statements of assets, liabilities and networth and misusing public funds, among other allegations.

In refuting Corpuz’s claims, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said her statements show “how detached she is with the realities happening in the Philippines.”

He insisted that the executive department does not interfere with the affairs of its co-equal branches – the judiciary and the legislature.

“Democracy in the Philippines is vibrant and strong. All the branches of the government are functioning and the rule of law thrives. The executive branch respects the separation of powers and the independence of the other co-equal branches and doesn’t meddle with their affairs,” Medialdea said in a statement.

Corpuz and about 600 other persons were tagged as terrorists by the government after President Duterte scrapped the peace negotiations with communist rebels, although the Department of Justice (DOJ) is still waiting for the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 to declare them, as required by the Human Security Act of 2007, terrorists.

Under the law, the DOJ should file a petition asking the court to declare a person or a group as terrorist.

Also in the list were Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Rafael Baylosis, former peace panel chief Luis Jalandoni and former Bayan Muna party-list representative Satur Ocampo.

Waging war

Corpuz, in a commentary published in Financial Times last week, claimed that the Duterte administration is waging a war against messengers who report about human rights violations in the country, as she reiterated her criticism over her inclusion in the list of individuals that the government wants to tag as terrorists.

“I am the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. My mandate is to report when communities anywhere in the world are forced to relocate, their lands uprooted, their leaders either deemed criminals or killed. Not everyone wants to hear it, but the message needs to be spread. In the Philippines, they are shooting the messengers,” she wrote.

Corpuz, who repeatedly denied allegations of having links with the Communist Party of the Philippine and New Peoples’ Army, said her inclusion in the list made her fear for her safety.

“In lumping its critics together with criminals, the government seeks to make us all guilty by association and thus the next targets of the vigilantes and rogue police officers who have led President Duterte’s bloody war against drugs. Now, he has started a new war – with new targets,” she added.

A member of the Kankanaey Igorot tribe, Corpuz vowed to continue fighting for indigenous peoples’ rights in the Philippines and other parts of the world.

“I have spent my life peacefully advocating for the rights of my people and other indigenous peoples around the world. I am sad to see the Philippines once again slipping towards the fascism that too many other nations have embraced, but I am not ready to give up now, either,” she said.

Her next report to the UN, she added, would focus on the topic of indigenous criminalization in different parts of the world.

“As the government continues to press its case, I will have to include my own experience, even though it pales in comparison to what others have faced. If I am arrested, or personally attacked, this next UN report might be delayed, but I am only one of many messengers speaking out against the many violations of human rights,” she said.

“You can keep shooting the messenger, but you will run out of bullets before we run out of messengers and, at the end of the day, the message will be heard,” added the UN rapporteur. – Janvic Mateo

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/04/01/1801666/rule-law-still-prevails-philippines-palace#qv7X4Gh777xW69p0.99

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 (Includes FT Op-Ed)

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.
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Above: Location of seven Chinese military bases in international waters or Philippine territorial waters — all near the Philippines.
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 (USS Mustin passage — Freedom of Navigation)

  (Xi Jinping’s first public address as “Ruler for Life”)

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All this makes one wonder: does the Philippines know what it is doing with China? In the South China Sea?  Benham Rise? Is Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ICC, and is Agnes Callamard  (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the UN) correct in saying the Philippines is guilty of gross illegalities under international law? Is the Philippine government being run by people who don’t understand the law? Is the move for a “Federal form of Government” based upon any good thinking?

Philippines President Duterte Unleashes New War on Filipina United Nations Expert — She called out vigilantes and rogue cops — Accused Duterte of “genocide”

March 31, 2018
Terrorism-accused UN expert: Duterte wages new war, with ‘new targets’

Ian Nicolas Cigaral (philstar.com) – March 31, 2018 – 12:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — As he leads a bloody war on drugs that has left scores dead, President Rodrigo Duterte has started a new battle, with “new targets,” a Filipina United Nations expert whom the government accused of terrorism said.

In a petition filed in a Manila court last month, the Department of Justice said it wants 600 people tagged as terrorists for their alleged links to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

The petition included UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who had condemned alleged rights abuses in the restive southern island of Mindanao where troops are fighting an Islamic insurgency and Maoist rebels.

Image result for Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, photos
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

The state’s move was strongly criticized by human rights watchdogs, with some describing the court petition as a “virtual hit list.”

In an opinion piece published on the Financial Times, dated March 29, Corpuz said those accused by the government of terrorism have become the “next targets” of vigilantes and rogue cops taking a frontline role in Duterte’s deadly drug war.

“My colleagues insist that my name is on the list in retaliation for speaking out on rights abuses against indigenous peoples on the island of Mindanao,” Corpuz said.

“I am sad to see the Philippines once again slipping towards the fascism that too many other nations have embraced, but I am not ready to give up now, either,” she added.

The targeting of left-wing activists came on the heels of Duterte’s vow to eliminate the communist movement following the collapse of peace talks with rebels.

Aside from the UN advisor, activists like Joanna Patricia Kintanar Cariño, who helped found the Cordillera People’s Alliance in 1984 to fight for land rights, are also in the DOJ’s terror list.

Reacting to the case, UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said “it makes one believe that the president of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation.”

‘The message will be heard’

Malacañang earlier defended the filing of the 600-person terror watchlist, saying it was not a witch-hunt on UN experts.

The Palace also maintained that based on “intelligence information,” Corpuz was connected to the underground left, adding that the DOJ would not have filed the petition without evidence.

“When I learnt that the Philippine government had accused me of being a terrorist, my immediate reaction was to hug my grandkids, fearing for their safety. Then, I started to speak out. Again,” the Filipina special rapporteur wrote on the Financial Times.

“You can keep shooting the messenger, but you will run out of bullets before we run out of messengers and, at the end of the day, the message will be heard,” she added.

Duterte’s order to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations has raised concerns among activists in the national democratic movement that legitimate organizations could be targeted as supporters of terrorism.

Membership in or support of a national democratic activist organization is not equivalent to affiliation with the communist movement.

By listing groups and individuals as terrorists, the state can freeze and forfeit their properties or funds, among other measures.

The Philippines recorded the highest number of killings related to land conflicts and struggles in 2017 amid a government crackdown on rural communities, according to advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific.

COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES-NEW PEOPLE’S ARMYTERRORISM PHILIPPINESUN RAPPORTEURS

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/03/31/1801516/terrorism-accused-un-expert-duterte-wages-new-war-new-targets#L8ookVu9K2jbzl3c.99

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Financial Times Op-Ed

By Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

A silent war is being waged on Philippine indigenous communities

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When I learnt that the Philippine government had accused me of being a terrorist, my immediate reaction was to hug my grandkids, fearing for their safety. Then, I started to speak out. Again.

I am the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. My mandate is to report when communities anywhere in the world are forced to relocate, their lands uprooted, their leaders either deemed criminals or killed. Not everyone wants to hear it, but the message needs to be spread. In the Philippines, they are shooting the messengers.

The country leads Asia in the number of murders of indigenous and environmental activists, with 41 people killed last year. The most recently reported assassination was that of indigenous leader Ricardo Mayumi; he was killed this month for insisting that indigenous communities lived where the government wanted to place a dam.

I am one of hundreds of people on a new government list of “terrorists”. This list, on a legal petition filed in a Manila court, includes many indigenous leaders and activists and their legal representatives as well as four paramilitary group members, who are wanted for the killing of an indigenous leader in 2012.

In lumping its critics together with criminals, the government seeks to make us all guilty by association and, thus, the next targets of the vigilantes and rogue police officers who have led President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war against drugs. Now, he has started a new war — with new targets.

This is not the first time I have had to worry about government-sponsored violence. As a teenager, and member of the Kankanaey Igorot people, I joined the movement protesting against the Chico River Dam Project, which would have flooded our ancestral domain and displaced 300,000 people. Our leader, Macliing Dulag, was assassinated and many others were detained and tortured. But we did not give up and eventually the project was cancelled.

Later, I worked to set up health programmes for communities who lacked basic government services. The Marcos dictatorship viewed this endeavour as a threat and sent the national army in response to raid my home.

I have spent my life peacefully advocating for the rights of my people and other indigenous peoples around the world. I am sad to see the Philippines once again slipping towards the fascism that too many other nations have embraced, but I am not ready to give up now, either.

The killings make news, but hidden behind these headlines is something even more insidious: the silencing of entire communities

My colleagues insist that my name is on the list in retaliation for speaking out on rights abuses against indigenous peoples on the island of Mindanao. The UN has been trying to draw attention to this crisis since 2003, as corporate interests have colluded with government officials to clear the lands of their inhabitants, avoid obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, and remove the most outspoken leaders.

Their lands hold an estimated $1tn worth of natural resources that is coveted by foreign interests — but the local people already live off of these resources, sustainably, without transforming the environment. Like the vast majority of indigenous peoples around the world, many in Mindanao do not have legal titles to the lands their ancestors have lived on and protected for generations. Overnight, governments may declare them squatters and if bulldozers will not compel them to move, deadly force is often the next step. The killers are rarely brought to justice.

I have reported on the impact of these killings, and the “criminalisation” that often precedes them, throughout my travels on behalf of the UN, to Honduras, Brazil, Mexico and many other countries. I have seen the scars left by bullets and the graves of murdered leaders. The killings make news, but hidden behind these headlines is something even more insidious: the silencing of entire communities.

My next report to the UN will focus on the topic of indigenous criminalisation. We are hearing testimony from indigenous and community leaders, human rights officials, and academic experts from more than two dozen countries, and will issue an official report later this year.

As the government continues to press its case, I will have to include my own experience, even though it pales in comparison to what others have faced. If I am arrested, or personally attacked, this next UN report might be delayed, but I am only one of many messengers speaking out against the many violations of human rights.

You can keep shooting the messenger, but you will run out of bullets before we run out of messengers and, at the end of the day, the message will be heard.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and an indigenous leader of the Kankanaey Igorot people of the Cordillera region in the Philippines

https://www.ft.com/content/4561c904-2dfb-11e8-97ec-4bd3494d5f14

Related:

No automatic alt text available.
China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.
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No automatic alt text available.
Above: Location of seven Chinese military bases in international waters or Philippine territorial waters — all near the Philippines.
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 (USS Mustin passage — Freedom of Navigation)

  (Xi Jinping’s first public address as “Ruler for Life”)

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All this makes one wonder: does the Philippines know what it is doing with China? In the South China Sea?  Benham Rise? Is Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ICC, and is Agnes Callamard  (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the UN) correct in saying the Philippines is guilty of gross illegalities under international law? Is the Philippine government being run by people who don’t understand the law? Is the move for a “Federal form of Government” based upon any good thinking?

People Seeking The Safety of Strongly Enforced Human Rights Once Came To The EU — “Today there is not so much enthusiasm.” — “the EU is a fair-weather friend to human rights.”

March 23, 2018

How much does the EU care about human rights?

Human rights groups have criticized the European Union for failing to uphold its values while tackling the migrant crisis. Where are its red lines? Conflict Zone meets European Parliament Vice President Ioan Pascu.

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 http://www.dw.com/en/how-much-does-the-eu-care-about-human-rights/a-43091671

Watch video26:00

Ioan Pașcu on Conflict Zone

Populist success at the polls across Europe. Brexit. Disunity. The European Union continues to face serious problems on many issues, including its handling of the migrant crisis that began in 2015.

But despite its humanitarian rhetoric, the EU has come under fire for its interventions, most recently in Libya.

In December, Amnesty International published a damning report, criticizing EU member states for “actively supporting a sophisticated system of abuse and exploitation of refugees and migrants by the Libyan Coast Guard, detention authorities and smugglers in order to prevent people from crossing the Mediterranean.”

Is the European Union failing to live up to its founding values of “human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity” that each of its members are bound by?

Red lines

This week on Conflict Zone, DW’s Tim Sebastian met European Parliament Vice President Ioan Pascu in Strasbourg and began by asking him why the EU spent so much time talking about human rights but did less to uphold them.

“It’s a question of values of a club,” Pascu told DW’s Sebastian. “They were posted at the entrance door, whoever wanted to become a member of the club would have to abide by them.”

Responding to the suggestion that member states were failing to abide by these rules, Pascu said: “I would agree with you that the attractiveness of the European Union has been affected by the crisis, by the conflicts around, and today there is not so much enthusiasm as there used to be in the late 90s, beginning of the 2000s.”

But Pascu dismissed that there was anything new in Greece’s decision in June 2017 to block EU criticism of China’s human rights record. China has a 51% stake in Greece’s largest port.

Philippinen - Präsident Rodrigo Duterte (picture alliance/ZUMAPRESS/R. Umali)The EU said its deal with the Philippines would “allow better collaboration … in political, economic and development issues”. Human Rights Watch has said that under President Rodrigo Duterte human rights in the Philippines is in crisis

Pascu disagreed too that the EU was failing to offer help beyond its own borders: “We see countries which up until now did not pay too much attention to the EU, being interested in relations with the EU, take India for instance, take Mexico for instance.”

But wasn’t this only driven by trade interests?

“Who is going to come only for values? Who is going to come only for that?” said Pascu, a former defense minister of Romania.

‘Not a great democrat’

On criticism of a recent agreement with the Philippines, Pascu questioned waiting for another leader: “Because they elected Duterte as president and Duterte is not a great democrat we should say, ‘no deals with you until you elect somebody else’?”

Human Rights Watch has saidPresident Rodrigo Duterte has “plunged the Philippines into its worst human rights crisis since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.”

“We do have to take into account much more than that. What if we don’t have such a treaty with Philippines tomorrow when they elect somebody else than Duterte?” said Pascu.

On the EU’s statements championing human rights, Pascu said: “It does not mean that the world revolves around only about one action or one leader, and then we have to give up everything else because that leader is not a democrat.”

Zitattafel - Conflict Zone: Ioan Pascu

So does it have limits in its dealings with other countries?

“We do have red lines … In February this parliament was very critical to the human rights records of Egypt.”

The European Parliament issued a statement in February condemning Egypt’s use of the death penalty.

In January, the former president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, said “the EU is a fair-weather friend to human rights: emphasizing them when there’s little risk, de-emphasizing them when interests come into play – often when it is in the interest of individual member states not to raise issues, primarily for commercial reasons […].”

Pascu, a European Parliament vice president since 2014, questioned this view as too generalized: “Not everything in the European Union is bad. Not everything in the European Union, equally, is not to be criticized. So that’s the way we move forward.”

Spanien Katalonien Unabhängigkeits-
Referendum Poilzei schreitet ein (picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Fernandez)“This argument has been made by all the separatists [in Catalonia], that it was police brutality,” Ioan Pascu told Conflict Zone. Human Rights Watch said that Spanish police had used excessive force during Catalonia’s independence referendum

‘Violence can be provoked’

But if there are many matters of division within the Union, one moment of recent unity has arguably been its silence over Spain and Madrid’s response to Catalonia’s failed independence bid.

Human Rights Watch said the Spanish police had used excessive force as they tried to stop the referendum in Catalonia.

Pascu told DW’s Tim Sebastian: “I side with the [Spanish] government because the government has the responsibility to make their constitution respected by their citizens. If that happens in another country the same situation will happen. Why do you think that these separatists have not been supported in Europe?”

However, Pascu insisted that support for Spain was not about the country’s importance to the EU: “It’s the symbolism of it. If you let these things happen and go around, then you never have the member states existing in the European Union.”

And if there was more violence in Spain over an independence vote?

“Sometimes violence can be provoked. Sometimes it can,” said Pascu.

http://www.dw.com/en/how-much-does-the-eu-care-about-human-rights/a-43091671

Philippine police shoot dead 13 as Duterte quits ICC — police say they have killed roughly 4,100 suspects who fought back during arrest

March 22, 2018

AFP

© AFP | Philippine police have said they have killed roughly 4,100 suspects who fought back during arrest, but rights groups allege the actual number is three times higher and accuse the authorities of murder

MANILA (AFP) – Philippine police said Thursday they had shot dead 13 drug suspects, just days after President Rodrigo Duterte moved to take the country out of the International Criminal Court over its inquiry into his deadly drug war.The suspects were killed Wednesday in the northern province of Bulacan, an official statement said, an area where police have previously launched lethal crackdowns on illegal drugs.

“Bulacan police are continuously and relentlessly implementing their intensified campaign against illegal drugs,” the statement said, adding there had been more than 100 arrests.

The war crimes tribunal, based in The Hague, last month launched a preliminary inquiry into Duterte’s bloody crackdown on narcotics, amid allegations Philippine security forces may have committed crimes against humanity.

Philippine police have said they have killed roughly 4,100 suspects who fought back during arrest, but rights groups allege the actual number is three times higher and accuse the authorities of murder.

The tribunal opened in 2002 to try abuses in countries where national courts cannot or will not prosecute. Manila in 2011 ratified the Rome Statute that created the court.

Manila gave official notice to the United Nations last week that it would withdraw, days after Duterte announced his country would quit the court over alleged “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against his government’s rights record.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said last Friday the Philippines was pushing back against “the well-orchestrated campaign to mislead the international community, to crucify President Duterte… by distorting the human rights situation in the country”.

The tribunal has urged Manila to reconsider its decision, adding that officially quitting the court requires a year’s notice and does not preclude its preliminary inquiry into the drug war killings, which have drawn international concern.

Duterte, who is buoyed by high popularity ratings at home, has fiercely defended the drug war as a battle to bring safety to the nation’s 100 million people.

He has frequently urged authorities to kill drug suspects while promising to protect police from legal sanction.

International jurist knocks Philippines’ reasoning on International Criminal Court withdrawal — “There is an obligation to investigate allegations of extrajudicial killings.”

March 22, 2018

 

The seat of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands is seen in this photo release by the International Commission of Jurists, a non-governmental organization advocating for human rights.

ICJ/Released

Dan Manglinong (philstar.com) – March 21, 2018 – 3:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — The chief of the International Commission of Jurists has very stern words for fellow lawyer President Rodrigo Duterte and his team over the decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.

In a letter dated March 19 addressed to Duterte, ICJ Secretary General Sam Zarifi countered the legal bases cited by the Malacañang in explaining Manila’s exodus from the Rome Statute which established the ICC.

“The Philippine government’s submitted justifications for withdrawing from the ICC are a litany of poorly thought out pseudo-legal arguments and self-serving statements that focus on President Duterte’s fear and resentment at facing questions for the horrific campaign of extrajudicial executions that his government has explicitly condoned,” Zarifi said in a statement.

Ratification not fraudulent

The Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC is valid, Zarifi said, noting that the Philippines enacted RA 9851, or An Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, in 2009.

The enactment of such law as well as the Philippines’ active campaign for the election of current ICC judge Raul Pangalanan to the body signified its acceptance and understanding of its obligations in ratifying the statute.

Initial review not a violation of local courts’ powers

The Iranian-American lawyer also insisted that there was no violation of the “principal of complementarity,” as opposed to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s reason.

“Complementarity” refers to the ICC’s power—with consent of the state party which ratified the statute—to deal with cases when national authorities are unwilling or unable to carry out fair investigations and proceedings.

“The conduct of a preliminary examination is entirely consistent with that principle,” Zarifi said.

Sam Zarifi of the ICJ

ICC’s prosecutors then can still proceed to a full investigation once it determines it has jurisdiction to do so in the preliminary examination of accusations against Duterte over his drug war.

Publication not necessary; No violation of presumption of innocence

The ICJ’s chief dismissed the Palace’s insinuations that the ratification of the Rome Statue did not have the effect of law because it was not published in the Official Gazette.

He also picked apart the Palace’s argument the ICC had violated Duterte’s presumption of innocence enshrined in Philippine law.

Zarifi explained that the preliminary investigation did not suggest guilt or indicate charges to be brought, such being the phase prior to an investigation.

Zarifi’s parting words for the letter were a reminder of the State’s obligation to investigate allegations of extrajudicial killings.

The ICJ is composed of over 60 judges and lawyers from around the world. It seeks the promotion and protection of human rights “by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems.” It was established in 1952 and is currently active in at least five continents.

HARRY ROQUEINTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTSINTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURTRODRIGO DUTERTESAL PANELO

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/03/21/1798982/international-jurist-knocks-palace-reasoning-icc-withdrawal#jv2lkf0y4GJC7wll.99

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Philippines: Investigation of Duterte abuses will go ahead, human rights groups say — Duterte “may have unwittingly displayed his fear of being proven guilty.”

March 15, 2018

 

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents and police arrest an alleged drug dealer during a drug raid in Maharlika Village, Taguig, south of Manila on February 28, 2018. (AFP)
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MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement that the Philippines will withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) will not effect its investigation of alleged human rights abuses during his war on drugs, Filipino human rights groups said on Thursday.

Duterte announced on Wednesday that the Philippines would withdraw ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, “effective immediately.”

Sen. Risa Hontiveros commented that Duterte’s move “only exposed (his) fear of being subjected to international scrutiny and prosecution.”

She added that Duterte “may have unwittingly displayed his fear of being proven guilty.”

Hontiveros added even if it was lawful to withdraw the Philippines from the ICC — which it was not — Duterte could still be held liable for “offenses committed while the Philippines was signatory to the ICC.”

She pointed out Article 127 of the Rome Statute states that “a withdrawal is effective only one year after receipt of notification.”

On Thursday, Malacanang defended Duterte’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute, saying it was due to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s violation of the principle of complementarity.

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Left: Rodrigo Duterte; Right: ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

This principle states that the ICC can only prosecute crimes when the state’s local courts are unable or unwilling to do so, which presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said is not the case in the Philippines.

Stephen Cutler, an international security expert and former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) legal attaché, said: “The ICC has jurisdiction over incidents or crimes that occurred while the state is a member.

“So, if the Philippines withdraws, it doesn’t matter because what they’re looking at are civilian deaths that occurred while the Philippines was a member.”

Human Rights Watch Associate Director Param-Preet Singh explained that ICC withdrawal requires a formal notification to the UN secretary-general, and only becomes official a year later.

“Even then, the court can still prosecute any international crimes committed while the Philippines was still an ICC member,” Singh said, criticizing Duterte’s attempt to “run from justice.”

“His announcement to pull out of the ICC, which is designed to prosecute those most responsible for grave crimes, is a barefaced attempt to shield him and high-ranking officials from possible ICC prosecution,” Singh said in a statement.

He further said that Duterte’s latest move highlights the urgent need for a UN-led investigation into the drug war killings.

For his part, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a staunch critic of Duterte, said the decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute is a political move by the president “because he knows that there is no way out for him in the ICC.”

Philippines says its exit marks ‘beginning of the end’ for International Criminal Court — Duterte Says International Law is “Oppressive”

March 15, 2018

The International Criminal Court had opened a preliminary examination had been opened into President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs, to look into whether crimes against humanity had been committed. (Reuters)
MANILA: The Philippines said on Thursday its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) could be “the beginning of the end” for the institution, as more countries would follow suit and non-members would be discouraged from joining.
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The announcement to withdraw comes five weeks after a court prosecutor said a preliminary examination had been opened into President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs, to look into whether crimes against humanity had been committed.
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But according to Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, that examination “violates the very fundamental basis by which we gave our consent to be bound by the ICC.”
ICC prosecutors have yet to comment on the announcement.
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In a statement released on Wednesday, Duterte said UN special rapporteurs were trying to “paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human right,” and the ICC had acted prematurely and created the impression he would be charged with serious crimes.
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Roque said Duterte believes there is a “conspiracy” among lobby groups and the United Nations, to which he said the ICC is perceived to be allied, and wants to indict him “in the court of public opinion.”
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“The ICC has lost a strong ally in Asia,” Roque told a media briefing.
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“No new countries will join because we are recognized as probably the number one defender of human rights and democracy in the world,” added Roque, a lawyer and prominent advocate for the Philippines joining the ICC in 2011.
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Duterte’s opponents wasted no time in accusing him of flip-flopping, pointing out that he had repeatedly dared the ICC to indict him and said he would “rot in jail” to defend a war on drugs during which police have killed thousands of people.
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They said Duterte’s decision was an admission of guilt and a sign that he was panicking.
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Human rights and jurist groups condemned him for what they saw as an attempt to evade justice and accountability, and said a withdrawal was pointless, because jurisdiction applied retroactively, for the period of membership.
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In an interview with ANC news channel early on Thursday, Roque warned of an “avalanche of other states leaving.”
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“This is the beginning of the end of the court,” he said, adding that the ICC would have no jurisdiction over the Philippines, and it was unlikely Duterte would ever be handed over to the court.
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Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said Duterte felt the ICC had become “a tool of oppression, a tool of harassment.”
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Jude Sabio, the lawyer who filed the ICC complaint last year, told ANC that the issue of an arrest warrant for the president would be a “big triumph of justice.”

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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines
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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Philippine War On Drugs Aimed At President Duterte’s Enemies — “Fake war on drugs” — Rule of law is lost — Former solicitor general and lawyer for detained Sen. Leila de Lima says

March 13, 2018
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay slammed the Department of Justice for dropping drug raps against “friends” of the administration,  Peter Lim and Kerwin Espinosa, while indicting Sen. Leila de Lima, deemed as “foe” of the Duterte government.

PCA released
Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) – March 13, 2018 – 1:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — Florin Hilbay, former solicitor general and counsel of detained Sen. Leila de Lima, slammed the Department of Justice for dropping drug raps against alleged big time drug lords.

In a text message to reporters, Hilbay said that the case of Kewrin Espinosa and Peter Lim should be “taken in the context of De Lima” who is the staunchest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Friends, allies, useful witnesses are exonerated, while political dissents are incarcerated on bogus charges,” Hilbay said.

 

 

In a resolution dated Dec. 20, 2017, state prosecutors dismissed the drug raps filed by the police against Espinosa, a confessed drug dealer; Lim, a “kumpare” of Duterte; Peter Co, a high-profile inmate, Lovely Impal, and others.

“The DOJ’s action simply highlights the political nature of this administration’s so-called war on drugs,” Hilbay also said, adding: “Peter Lim was identified by the president himself as drug lord, Espinosa is a confessed drug lord and Peter Co is a convicted drug lord.”

Senators on Tuesday also slammed the “fake war on drugs” launched by the Duterte administration.

READ: ‘Fake drug war’: Senators slam dismissal of raps vs Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Lim

Same defense used by De Lima

Hilbay also pointed out that: “The DOJ was able to use basic requirements of corpus delicti (facts and circumstances) and the need for credible witnesses in their case, matters that were conveniently dropped by the DOJ in Sen. De Lima’s case.”

The former solicitor general serves as De Lima’s counsel for her petition challenging the legality of her arrest currently pending before the Supreme Court.

The SC in October 2017, upheld the constitutionality of De Lima’s arrest, but Hilbay appealed the decision in November. The SC has yet to act on their motion for reconsideration.

For their defense, Hilbay said that the DOJ failed to specify the transactions where De Lima allegedly had a hand, and which and how many drugs were allegedly traded.

In junking the PNP’s complaint, the state prosecutors said that the PNP relied on the testimonies of their sole witness, Marcus Adorco.

The DOJ said that the inconsistencies in Adorco’s affidavits—that include dates and place of meeting with drug suppler, timeline of drug transactions, volume of drugs involved—are “material matters” of the case.

Hilbay said: “The amendment of the charges, the use of disqualified witnesses, dispensing with the need for evidence—these are all signs of political persecution in the case of De Lima.”

The senator has been detained at Camp Crame since February 2017. She is facing three separate charges of drug trading—later amended by the DOJ to conspiracy in drug trading—before the Muntinlupa trial courts.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/03/13/1796341/hilbay-drug-war-only-duterte-admin-foes#FKQg0VYgADVv9p1U.99

Indo-Pacific and the South China Sea: Rules-based order pushed aside worries U.S., allies

March 7, 2018

USS Carl Vinson port call in Vietnam aimed at challenging Beijing’s claims

YUKAKO ONO, Nikkei staff writer

Buildings and an airstrip are seen on this reclaimed island, Subi Reef, in the South China Sea. © AP

BANGKOK — China’s land reclamation and militarization of islands in the South China Sea lacks transparency and is causing angst in the Indo-Pacific region, according to Vice Adm. Phillip Sawyer, commander of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.

In a telephone briefing on Tuesday, one day after a U.S. aircraft carrier called at a Vietnamese port for the first time in more than 40 years, Sawyer reiterated Washington’s commitment to a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, and stressed that the navy would continue to operate based on the principle of freedom of navigation, in line with international laws.

Since President Donald Trump took office, the U.S. Navy has frequently conducted so-called freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, sailing warships within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built by China. The operations are aimed at challenging Beijing’s claims to control nearly all of the vast body of water.

Washington has called on its allies for support, and Britain and France are reportedly planning to send ships to the South China Sea as well. China has protested this response, saying countries outside the region should stay out maritime disputes.

The four-day port call of the USS Carl Vinson and the carrier strike group’s 5,500 sailors at Danang, in central Vietnam, is seen as another demonstration of U.S. opposition to China’s expansive claims. The sailors were the largest contingent of U.S. military personnel on Vietnamese soil since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

“Carl Vinson being here is about Vietnam,” Sawyer said. The purpose of the visit was “to continue normalizing relationship [with] the Vietnamese Navy,” he said, without elaborating.

However, Sawyer did say China’s land reclamation and militarization of islands is causing “angst” in the region. “The angst is because of the lack of transparency … it’s not quite clear what is going to happen down there, and I think that angst and lack of transparency is potentially disruptive to the security and stability of the region.”

Ties between Washington and Hanoi have warmed under the Trump administration. Trump made an official visit to the Vietnamese capital in November last year, meeting with President Tran Dai Quang and offering to mediate between Vietnam and China over the South China Sea. Sawyer added that, following the USS Carl Vinson, he is “looking forward to bringing one of the U.S. submarines to a port in Vietnam.”

Vietnam also has claims in the South China Sea, along with several other countries. It has become one of the strongest opponents of Beijing’s efforts to assert itself in the area, now that the Philippines has drastically softened its stance under President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte has opted not to pursue its own claims in hopes of obtaining more economic assistance from China.

Before calling at Danang, the Carl Vinson was anchored off Manila.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Beijing-s-South-China-Sea-moves-create-angst-US-admiral

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China’s economic coercion worries retiring US Navy commander

Rules-based order pushed aside by repressive powers in Indo-Pacific

KEN MORIYASU, Nikkei Asian Review chief desk editor

U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift speaks to reporters in Tokyo on March 6. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO — When Admiral Scott Swift enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1978, there were no concepts of soft power or smart power. The navy had around 530 active ships, nearly twice the number of today, and mass counted.

Forty years later, as he prepares to retire as commander of the Pacific Fleet, Swift leaves behind a much changed world. Policymakers and scholars in Washington talk of “influence operations” conducted by countries such as China and Russia, which aim to gain undue leverage through infrastructure building and unrepayable debt.

On Tuesday, on his last visit to Japan, Swift talked of a new application of power that he sees in the Indo-Pacific region. “Coercive economic actions” are being taken, he said, in an apparent dig at China. These players “increase debt in a given country and then turn around and ask for something in return that was not part of the original negotiation.”

That is a concern that has increasingly come up in his discussions with regional leaders, he said.

“We need to clarify exactly what the greatest concern of the region is,” he said during a group interview in Tokyo. “And that is the diminishment of the rules-based order.”

The current rules-based international order, Swift said, was born out of the experience of World War II to ensure that “if a country grew in military strength, it would not be in a position to use that strength in the context of ‘might makes right’ to force its will on other nations.”

“We need to clarify exactly what the greatest concern of the region is,” Swift told reporters in Tokyo on March 6. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

Might, however, seems to be making a lot of things right in the Indo-Pacific if one were to flip through the news. In the Maldives, former President Mohamed Nasheed has claimed that 16 islands are already under Beijing’s control, and that the Indian Ocean country will have to cede more as it is saddled with an unrepayable amount of debt accumulated through infrastructure projects.

Pakistan, the recipient of an estimated $60 billion investment for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the single largest infrastructure investment program under President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, is set to become further reliant on Beijing’s money after an inter-governmental anti-money laundering watchdog initiated a process to place the country on a counter-terrorist financing watchlist.

The administration of President Donald Trump took note of China’s expanding influence in the National Security Strategy report published last December. “A geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of world order is taking place in the Indo-Pacific region,” it noted.

“China is using economic inducements and penalties, influence operations, and implied military threats to persuade other states to heed its political and security agenda.

“Chinese dominance risks diminishing the sovereignty of many states in the Indo-Pacific,” the report said.

An F/A-18 jet fighter lands on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Sea of Japan. (Photo by Ken Moriyasu)

In an interconnected world, such changes in a regional balance of power can have global consequences, and that is why the U.S. has taken note of this new form of power.

“I’ve made four trips to China,” Swift told the reporters. “Competition is not a bad thing. The question is: what is the rule set that is going to govern this competition?”

He closed by saying that he regrets not being able to take part in that competition in uniform. Last September, the veteran sailor requested to retire after being informed that he was not the Navy’s choice to replace Adm. Harry Harris as commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

On Swift’s watch, two fatal collisions between U.S. warships and merchant ships resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors.

Swift’s replacement, 5th Fleet commander Vice Adm. John Aquilino, was announced in February.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/China-s-economic-coercion-worries-retiring-US-Navy-commander