President Rodrigo Duterte is not one to lose sleep over the possible charges that will be filed against him in relation to his bloody campaign against illegal drugs when his term ends in 2022.
Duterte’s main worry, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said, is how to address the plight of ordinary Filipinos.
“It’s a free country. Everyone is entitled to file any case against whom so they think that has violated the law and let the courts decide the validity of such complaints,” Panelo said.
“The only worry that the President has is the sufferings of the people. That’s why he does a lot of things to make lives comfortable for them,” he added.
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers earlier said it will file a series of cases against President Duterte when he steps down as President in 2022.
Among the cases which will be filed by NUPL are crimes against humanity and human rights violations over alleged abuses in the administration’s war against illegal drugs.
“The justice system in the Philippines is unable to provide legal remedies to victims of EJK [extrajudicial killings] and other human rights violations because, as President Duterte claims, he is immune from suit,” NUPL national chairperson Neri Colmenares said.
Colmenares said more charges will be filed against the President before international bodies such as the United Nations.
In August last year, activists and the families of eight victims of the war on drugs, represented by the NUPL, filed a complaint against the President before the International Criminal Court.
The Hague-based ICC has started its preliminary examination on the second complaint filed against Duterte last April.
It was the second petition that accused the President of murder and crimes against humanity in relation to the campaign against illegal drugs.
The first one was filed by lawyer Jude Sabio in April 2017, citing the “continuing mass murder” in the Philippines as shown by the thousands of Filipinos killed in Duterte’s anti-criminality and anti-drug campaigns.
Colmenares said such charges are “preparations” for more cases to be filed domestically when Duterte loses his immunity from suit.
“President Duterte cannot even promise members of the police and military that they will not go to prison because even President Duterte himself cannot escape criminal accountability once he steps down from office,” Colmenares said.
In July, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to probe the human rights situation in the country amid Duterte’s anti-narcotics crackdown.
Eighteen countries sponsored the Iceland-led resolution which drew the ire of Duterte, prompting him to order all government agencies to reject loans and grants from the states which backed the inquiry.
Some signatories are members of the European Union, one of the Philippines’ largest sources of official development assistance.