(JANUARY 14, 2020) – A Filipino lawyer on Tuesday withdrew a case he had filed with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte for the killings of thousands of people in his administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.
In April 2017, lawyer Jude Sabio haled to the international court the president for alleged crimes against humanity when more than 1,400 people died in Davao City where he was mayor for two decades.
Sabio said he did not agree with the political opposition, led by former senator Antonio Trillanes, in using the human rights case to stain Duterte’s image.
“Nakita ko na ginagamit lang nila ang kaso sa ICC para sa kanilang pulitika. Ayoko nang maging kasali sa ganyang katarantaduhan,” Sabio said after filing a motion to withdraw his complaint.
A known Duterte supporter and lawyer Larry Gadon assisted him in taking back the ICC case he had filed against the President.
However, Trillanes was unfazed with the lawyer’s action. He said the move has no effect on the ICC case, since Sabio represented one of several complainants, including members of the opposition, like former congressman Gary Alejano.
Trillanes and Alejano had also filed a similar complaint against Duterte in June 2017 before the ICC.
“Ang paggapang kay Sabio ng Duterte forces ay isang maliwanag na indication na natutuliro na sina Duterte sa ICC case na malapit nang lumabas,” the ex-senator said in a statement.
Close to 6,000 drug users and peddlers had died in police anti-drugs operations since July 2016. About 3,00o more drug-relate deaths were attributed to vigilante killings.
Human rights groups, however, pin the number at 27,000 deaths.
Sabio was the counsel of self-confessed Davao Death Squad member Edgar Matobato, who linked Duterte to the group and alleged extrajudicial killings in the city.
The Philippines officially left the ICC in March 2019, as the President insisted he will not yield to the international tribunal.
The Palace said the deaths in the war on drugs were not state-sponsored.
The ICC, however, remain relentless and said it is wrapping up the preliminary examination–the first step in the tribunal’s legal process.
This will be followed by a preliminary investigation, before trials take place. (Randell Ritumalta/MM)