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International People’s Tribunal finds Duterte “guilty”

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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is found “guilty” of violating the political and economic rights of Filipinos in a ruling by the International People’s Tribunal convened in Brussels, Belgium.

The jurors said, “We heard the testimonies of the witnesses—many of them heart-wrenching, traumatic and horrific—experts and resource persons, as well as the digests of the wealth of data, information, facts, analyses and other evidence presented and submitted before us and we have made an initial analysis and observation.”

The testimonies on human rights abuses and attacks on journalists are disgusting and beyond imagination, IPT added.

Hence, the decision reads: “It is our consensus, therefore, that the defendants Duterte, Trump and all other defendants are guilty of all charges specified in the indictment, which account for their accountability for crimes against humanity, war crimes and violations of law and legal instruments referred to in this indictment.”

With the verdict of International People’s Tribunal handed down, the next step is it will be endorsed to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the European Parliament and the International Criminal Court, which is conducting a preliminary examination into the government’s bloody war on drugs. But it should be noted that the IPTis not a strictly legal and judicial proceeding.

There were witnesses, families of victims and concerned organizations raised the issues of alleged extrajudicial killings linked with the government’s anti-narcotics campaign and counterinsurgency program, detention and political persecution of dissenters and activists,rights abuses during the Marawi siege and imposition of martial law in Mindanao, and attacks on journalists. The testimonies were heard in two days.

According to a report from a media site, the IPT has indicted abusive administrations in the past, starting with ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. in 1980.

A people’s tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands indicted the Arroyo administration “for human rights violations, economic plunder and transgression of Philippine sovereignty” in 2007. A people’s tribunal in Washington, DC also indicted former President Aquino III with US President Barack Obama, for “crimes against the Filipino people” in 2015.

Meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the proceeding and verdict of the International People’s Tribunal as “sham.”

Roque further said, “That’s not the official proceeding. That’s a propaganda proceeding of the Left. It’s a sham proceeding… for propaganda purposes.”

Last March, President Duterte made an announcement that the Philippines is leaving the International Criminal Court because of “the baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person as well as against my administration, engineered by the officials of the United Nations.”

The presidential mouthpiece insisted that the tribunal as a “propaganda body of the international Left.” Testimonies at the proceedings were given by groups and individuals either associated with the national democratic movement or have been critical of the Duterte administration’s policies.

 “Therefore, we set it aside as being a useless piece of propaganda against the government,”Roque added.

However, in response to Roque’s claim that IPT is a sham, Karapatan and National Union of People’s Lawyers maintained that the IPT is a legitimate venue for redress and grievances.

NUPL said, “The IPT follows and respects due process where the Defendants are duly notified and given an adequate opportunity to participate and defend themselves; has its rules of procedure that is consistent with universal standards of evidence; convened by prestigious and respected international lawyers’ organizations; presided by a panel of eminent jurors of different disciplines; and where the proceedings are conducted in an open and public trial.”

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