TURNING POINT: Rodrigo Roa Duterte vs. the People of the World

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 27 April) – Tactlessness is the thoughtless way of hurting others without the slightest pre-knowledge and intention of harming oneself.

Recently, after his speech upon arrival at NAIA from Qatar, President Duterte was reported telling OFWs who were around: If you lose your job, I’ll give you one. Kill all the drug addicts.” He then said: “Help me kill addicts” and “Let’s kill addicts every day.”

Tactlessly encouraging the citizens to kill drug pushers and drug users is one of the most consistent behavior of Mr. Duterte, next only to his fecklessness, since the start of his drug war on June 30 last year, when during a speech he told the public to kill addicts. Since then it is believed that around 9,000 people have been killed by police and vigilantes in responding favorably to his bidding.

Duterte considers drug addicts as criminals worse than the ASG and the NPA. At least for the declared two terrorist elements we have not heard that he encouraged the citizens to kill them; they were left to the wits and wiles of the military and the police. Not so with poor drug personalities where citizens are even promised substantial rewards to hunt and kill them. They have to be eliminated by all means even at the cost of leaving the legal and justice system of the land in complete disarray.

To eradicate criminality he is now making the citizens of the country into criminals themselves. What a feat for the Time’s most influential leader of the planet in 2017. I doubt if Hitler in his worst tantrum had publicly exhorted the Germans to kill the Jews.

It seems time is finally catching with PRRD. He is now being charged along with some key officials of his government at the International Criminal Court for committing crimes against humanity for the systematic extrajudicial killings occurring in the country under his watch. The charge against Digong includes likewise the EJKs in Davao City during his incumbency as mayor. The historic criminal case is not just Rodrigo Roa Duterte vs. the People of the Philippines but Rodrigo Roa Duterte vs. the People of the world.

Crimes against humanity are offenses against every member of the human species, therefore, a crime against all the human inhabitants of Earth.

Although, accordingly, there is no direct evidence so far that the President himself planned or ordered specific extrajudicial killings, but his accusers believe that there are sufficient grounds for Duterte, Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Solicitor General Jose Calida and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, Police Superintendent Edilberto Leonardo, Senior Police Officer 4 Sanson “Sonny” Buenaventura, Police Superintendent Royina Garma, National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran, Sen. Richard Gordon, and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano to be held criminally responsible.

“Even if not directly involved in any specific operations to summarily execute any specific individual, President Duterte appears to have instigated unlawful acts by the police, incited citizens to commit serious violence, and made himself criminally liable under international law for the unlawful killings as a matter of command responsibility,” commented the Human Rights Watch on the issue.

The charge at ICC is, of course, another feather to the cap of the devil-may-care president. He has now joined the exclusive club of the famous heads of state of USA and UK who had also been charged at the ICC for committing crimes against humanity, namely:

George Herbert Walker Bush, William J. Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Hussein Obama, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Anthony Blair and Gordon Brown.

The charges or communications against them cite 1.5 million Iraqi deaths over the course of 19 years of American and British attacks, including two full-scale wars of aggression, the “most draconian sanctions regime ever designed,” and subsequent destruction and occupation of Iraq. Half a million of the dead, according to the charges, were children.

The difference between them and Digong was that the charge against the former could not and would never progress because the US and the UK are not signatories to the creation of ICC or have not ratified the treaty on the same, thus they are not therefore under the jurisdiction of the Court. The Philippines is, however, one of the 124 state-signatories that had ratified the international covenant that created ICC during the presidency of Joseph Estrada. Hence President Duterte may likely be tried.

However, while his trial is imminently possible, his conviction is far from certain. On the other hand, if ever convicted, how to implement the judgment is still a high bar to hurdle.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)