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Monday, May 20, 2024

Changing mood

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“It takes years before a trial could start and not all who are brought to trial end up being found guilty”

The recent polling conducted by OCTA Research and SWS indicate there is a growing acceptance by the public of the International Criminal Court investigations of the anti-drug campaign of the past administration.

Both surveys show more than 50 per cent of the public now believe the ICC investigation is fair.

There is also a growing number of people that favor rejoining the ICC. This is in stark contrast to about a year or two ago wherein the public was largely against the ICC investigations.

Times, therefore, appear to be changing which may indicate the public may be shifting away from the right of the Duterte years towards the middle.

What could this mean to our politics?

Perhaps the midterm elections next year will tell us more if the shift is real or only an aberration.

There is also the question whether the government will change its position and cooperate with the investigations.

But this seems highly unlikely due to the firm pronouncements of the President.

The main reason why the ICC was established was to “investigate and, where warranted, prosecute individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community.”

These crimes include war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.

Another corollary reason is to serve as a warning to would-be dictators that if they abuse their own people, there is a process wherein they can be held accountable.

We have to remember that throughout history, we have seen many leaders who have abused their political power and caused untold sufferings to the people they governed.

One example is what happened to the Cambodian people when the Khmer Rouge slaughtered between 1.5 to 2 million Cambodians from 1975 to 1979 out of an estimated population of about 7.8 million or a quarter of the population.

But since there was no ICC at that time, the Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for the genocide were tried and found guilty under another judicial process established by the United Nations.

What is important is that those responsible ended up being punished.

In the case of the ICC, most of those that have been accused and tried by the ICC were leaders of developing countries.

Because of this, there have been criticisms that the ICC is just another Western instrument established by them that only goes after Third World leaders.

Western leaders who commit what could be perceived as crimes against humanity are never brought to justice.

The ICC therefore is not entirely without its own controversies.

This is perhaps one reason why only 123 countries out of the 193 UN member countries joined the ICC.

The United States, Russia, China and India are not members. For us, FPRRD as we know, pulled the country out of the ICC in 2018 which became final in 2019.

With regard to cases being investigated by the ICC, there are currently 52 people under indictment with ongoing proceedings against 20, 15 are at large as fugitives and five are on trial.

Proceedings against 32 have been completed while two are currently serving sentences.

Four have been acquitted while seven have had the charges against them dismissed.

Four also have had their charges withdrawn while eight have died before the conclusion of the proceedings against them.

What this tells us is that the process is long and tedious.

It takes years before a trial could start and not all who are brought to trial end up being found guilty.

There are also cases that have been withdrawn or dismissed outright. For some reasons, the ICC calls the investigations it is doing in 17 countries, situations.

The Philippines is one of two Southeast Asian countries on that list. The other is Myanmar.

One cause why the Philippine ICC investigations is controversial is because of the general belief that FPRRD, who remains very popular and politically influential, is a target although this has never been officially confirmed by the ICC.

The recent rumors about the release of an arrest warrant for him are just that, wild rumors.

The ICC does not release those kinds of information in advance. Those eager beavers, therefore, should just wait.

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