Duterte under fire after ‘Bloody Sunday’ massacre

Bloody Sunday

In the wake of the “Bloody Sunday”¬†killings of nine¬†activists in the Philippines, advocates are demanding passage of the Philippine Human Rights Act (PHRA) in the US¬†Congress, which would suspend United States aid to the Manila government until the rights crisis in the archipelago nation is addressed. In a supposed operation against the New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas on March 7, national police troops backed up by the army killed nine members of¬†Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance, BAYAN) civil organization in the southern¬†Calabarzon region of Luzon island.¬†Among those killed was Emmanuel “Manny”¬†Asuncion, secretary general of BAYAN in Cavite province, and an important mass organizer in Calabarzon region (also known¬†as¬†Southern Tagalog).

Police said in their report that the slain had resisted when officers attempted to carry out search warrants, but BAYAN and regional rights groups describe the killings as extrajudicial executions. Six other BAYAN supporters were arrested in the raids.

The killings came just two days after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered government forces to “kill”¬†and “finish off”¬†all communist rebels in the country. “I’ve told the military and the police, that if they find themselves in an armed encounter with the communist rebels, kill them, make sure you really kill them, and finish them off if they are alive,”¬†Duterte told¬†a March 5 meeting of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in Cagayan de Oro City. “Ignore human rights,”¬†he added. “That’s my order.”

Since Duterte took office in 2016, the US has sent over $550 million in military aid to the Philippines, as well as making  $2 billion in arms sales to his government in 2020 alone. (Inquirer, Inquirer, Al Jazeera, Rappler, HRW, OCCRP)

The Philippines Supreme Court on March 16 dismissed a petition challenging the legal validity of Duterte’s unilateral withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2019, claiming that the issue had become “moot and academic.

The Philippines officially withdrew from the ICC on March 17, 2019, a year after Duterte publicly announced the nation’s intention to withdraw. Two separate petitions were filed challenging the withdrawal. The first, filed in May 2018 by opposition party senators, argued that withdrawal from the Rome Statute (and the ICC by extension) required a two-thirds majority concurrence in the Senate. The second petition, filed in June 2018 by the Philippine Coalition for the ICC, claimed that Duterte overstepped the powers of his office when he unilaterally withdrew, as “there was no basis in fact, law or jurisprudence.”¬†(Jurist)

Duterte, who has overseen thousands of killings, faces complaints before the ICC.

Photo via Twitter

  1. ICC opens investigation into Duterte ‘war on drugs’

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has formally authorized an official investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs,” dealing a moral victory to human rights defenders and families of victims killed, including innocent children.

    In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Hague-based tribunal said there was “reasonable basis”¬†to proceed with the probe noting that “specific legal element of the crime against humanity of murder”¬†has been met in the crackdown that left thousands dead. (Al Jazeera)

    Duterte announced that he will not cooperate with the investigation, insisting the tribunal does not have jurisdiction in his country. (Bangkok Post)

  2. Marcos-Duterte ticket in Philippines?

    Ferdinand Marcos Jr., AKA “Bongbong,”¬†the son of the former dictator of the Philippines, claimed a major boost on Nov. 13 in his effort to become the country’s next president, saying that the daughter of its current leader, Rodrigo Duterte-Carpio, would effectively be his running mate.

    Sara Duterte has yet to confirm that she is supporting Marcos in the May election. But she has declared her candidacy for the vice presidency, after much speculation that she would run for president herself.

    But the ticket will face Sen.¬†Christopher “Bong”¬†Go, a Duterte loyalist, who registered to run for president that same day, after withdrawing from the vice presidential race. Rodrigo Duterte is barred by the constitution from¬†running for a second term.¬†(NYT, Reuters)

  3. ICC suspends Philippines probe

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Nov. 19 temporarily suspended its investigation into suspected abuses committed by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte during his crackdown on drugs. The move came in response to a¬†“deferral request” filed by Manila, citing the country’s own investigations into drug war killings. (Jurist, Reuters)

  4. Marcos dynasty restored in Philippines?

    Ferdinand “Bongbong”¬†Marcos Jr, son of the Philippines’ former dictator, is poised to win the presidential election by a landslide, according to early¬†results. The senator is placed well ahead of his rival Leni Robredo.¬†Sara Duterte, who ran for vice-president alongside Marcos, Jr, is also leading by a wide margin. (BBC News)


  5. ICC prosecutor seeks to resume Philippines investigation

    The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on June 24¬†stated that he has sought authorization from the ICC to resume investigating the Philippine government’s “war on drugs.”¬†“I have concluded that the deferral requested by the Philippines is not warranted, and that the investigation should resume as quickly as possible,‚ÄĚ Karim Khan said in the statement. (Jurist)

  6. ICC to resume Philippines investigation

    International Criminal Court judges Jan. 26 cleared the way for the court’s prosecutors¬†to resume investigation into¬†the Philippine government’s “war on drugs.”

    Prosecutor Karim Khan asked judges for permission last year to reactivate his inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity between Nov. 1, 2011, and March 16, 2019. The investigation was suspended in late 2021 after the Philippines said it already was examining the crimes and argued that the ICC therefore lacked jurisdiction. Khan argued that Manila’s request for the case to be deferred to Philippine¬†authorities “is not warranted.”

    A panel of judges agreed in their new ruling, after examining information from the Philippine government and Khan, and weighing testimony from victims. (AP)

  7. ICC rejects bid to block Philippines investigation

    The International Criminal Court Appeals Chamber upheld a prior ICC decision to resume its investigations into the Philippine government’s “war on drugs”¬†on July 18, rejecting¬†an attempt by Manila to block an external investigation. (Jurist)

  8. Philippines may block ICC investigators

    Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said July 21 that the Philippine government will have to learn more about the intentions of several investigators from the International Criminal Court (ICC) before granting them entry to the country. Remulla’s comments come after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. told reporters the government will no longer be involved with the ICC following an unsuccessful challenge to the the Court’s jurisdiction. (Jurist)

  9. Philippines president declines cooperation with ICC probe

    Philippines President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. reaffirmed Jan. 23 that his government will not cooperate with the investigation undertaken by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the previous Duterte¬†administration’s “war on drugs.”¬†(Jurist)