International groups laud tribunal verdict finding Duterte, U.S. government guilty of war crimes

September 20, 2018


20 September 2018

MANILA — On the eve of the commemoration of the 1972 declaration of martial law in the Philippines, various people’s organizations allied with the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) celebrated the verdict of the International Peoples’ Tribunal 2018 (IPT2018) finding the US-Duterte regime “guilty of crimes against the Filipino people”.

The IPT2018, composed of distinguished international jurors, came up with the verdict after hearing the testimonies of victims and expert witnesses in proceedings held in the past two days in Brussels, Belgium.

Kilusang Mayo Uno and ILPS-Philippines Chair Elmer Labog who was in New York to attend the Bayan-USA Congress said that global solidarity actions will be held simultaneously at Philippine embassies and consular offices in major cities around the globe

In Manila, ILPS-Phils affiliated organizations will be marching side-by-side with other opposition forces tomorrow in Luneta (Rizal Park) to air the public’s outcry against the regime which has killed tens of thousands and inflicted terrible sufferings mostly on the poor.

The Tribunal also found the U.S. government headed by Pres. Trump to be complicit in the all-out war in the Philippines as it “aided and abetted war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Filipino people.”

Liable for war crimes

Marjorie Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and a member of the board of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, testified as an expert witness at the Tribunal and said that “for the past 17 years under Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump, the U.S. government has provided military assistance to the Philippine government which enabled it to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity against its own people.”

“Murder, torture, other inhumane acts such as the use of white phosporus which burns to the bone and persecution based on political grounds when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population with the knowledge of the attack constitute crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute,” she said.

She emphasized that: “The doctrine of Command Responsibility first developed at Nuremburg and enshrined in customary international law under the Rome Statute provides that command responsibiltiy all the way up to the chain of command to the president or the commander-in-chief can be liable for war crimes and crimes against humanity if they knew or should have known they were committed by their subordinates and they did nothoing to stop or prevent it. That provides the liability for Duterte and his officials, even if they did not personally carry out these war crimes and crimes against humanity. U.S. leaders can also be liable for their assistance to the crimes committed by the Philippine regime.”

Rally against the “MAD Gang”

“Martial law was never lifted. We now have 14 years of the Marcos dictatorship and nine years of Arroyo distilled in just two years of Duterte. We are now confronting a “MAD” (Marcos-Arroyo-Duterte) Gang whose ringleaders are all notorious for cheating, stealing, lying and killing,” ILPS-Philippines Chair Elmer Labog said.

Duterte has accommodated the Marcoses, with Marcos’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Jr. contesting Leni Robredo for the Vice Presidency, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo repositoned as the new Speaker of the House.

“We are warning the U.S. and the military not to exploit the situation with a junta. The people’s will and constitutional process must be respected,” Labog added.

This was stressed after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana met with his US counterpart James Mattis this week at the Pentagon.

The September 21 rally against Duterte and his “MAD Gang” is expected to draw the biggest ever street protest since the United People’s SONA last July.

Duterte hailed to ICC, UNHRC

The Tribunal verdict will be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has started its own preliminary investigations into the mass killings under Duterte’s government.

The verdict will also be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, the European Parliament and several governments.

“Duterte has lost his legitimacy as a head of state before the international community. It has rendered its judgement on his criminal regime. He must now pay for his crimes, the so-called punisher must be punished,” Labog said.

The Tribunal was endorsed by the ILPS and convened by the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), IBON International, and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP).