President Rodrigo Duterte named politicians, police officials, judges and businessmen allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade in 2016, without offering any evidence to the public. Some of the personalities included in the President’s narco-list were either killed by shadowy figures or died in operations described by law enforcers as legitimate.
The promise of eradicating illegal drugs within six months of his presidency did not come true. The administration’s war on drugs resulted in the deaths of thousands of pushers, most of whom were from the slums. And seven months before the President’s term ends, the illegal drug problem is still here.
Suspected human rights abuses committed by Philippine law enforcers under the Duterte administration are being investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC recently deferred its investigation after Malacañang filed a deferral request on Nov. 10, 2021, stating that the government is conducting its own probe. ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said the prosecution will evaluate the “scope and effect of the deferral request,” and it will seek additional information from the Philippine government.
President Duterte withdrew the country’s membership from the ICC in 2018, and he has said the international court has no jurisdiction to indict him. The withdrawal took effect in 2019.
Why did Malacañang submit the deferral request if the country is not already an ICC member?
The ICC, however, maintains that it has jurisdiction to investigate crimes while the Philippines was a member until 2019.
In another issue, the President dropped a bombshell last Thursday, Nov. 18, when he said that a presidential aspirant in the May 2022 elections who comes from a wealthy family is a cocaine user. He did not divulge the candidate’s name.
The camp of presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of dictator Marcos Sr., reacted to the President’s statement. It said it did not feel alluded to by President Duterte’s blind item.
Labor leader Leody de Guzman, also a presidential aspirant, urged President Duterte to reveal the name of his junkie fellow aspirant and send him to jail.
Indeed, if the President has the courage, he should have divulged the name of the cocaine-using presidential aspirant. He should also direct the Department of Justice to build a case against the candidate. That’s if the President has evidence.
In 2016, the President did not hold back in divulging the names of personalities suspected to be involved in the drug trade, even if it violated their rights to be afforded due process. This is part of President Duterte’s playbook: maligning opponents and critics by branding them as drug users or protectors of drug kingpins even without evidence. Also, refusing to name the cocaine-using presidential aspirant shows the President’s double standard in his war on drugs.