ICC, and are we a nation of murderers? | Inquirer Opinion
Sisyphus’ Lament

ICC, and are we a nation of murderers?

Singapore—Everyone asks: Will the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecute President Duterte for crimes against humanity? No one asks: Do the Filipino people want this? Would we so readily surrender our right to govern ourselves to a foreign court?

What if we launched a real-life “Hunger Games”? We can reorganize into districts as a prelude to federalism. We can redefine our notions of elite schools, beginning with the University of the Philippines’ Fighting Maroons and makibaka.


BDO would remind us: “We find ways—to help you survive.” Jollibee’s viral ad would end like this: “Even if I killed you, I will always be your best friend.” #UberSTORIES would pivot from “Kilig” to “Kill”.

The drive for the best tributes would spur local development. Proud hometown sponsors would parachute Aida’s inasal, Netong’s batchoy, Zubuchon lechon, or La Preciosa bagnet into the arena.


Will our Caesar Flickermans be Willie Revillame and Vic Sotto, or Karen Davila and Alma Moreno? Will Mocha Uson crusade against “bias” refereeing? Will Rodel Rodis cite nonexistent constitutional provisions to accuse winners of holding US passports?

Sovereign people are free to choose their path, whether a war on drugs, Dutertenomics, federalism, or Hunger Games. So long as they hold themselves accountable and can look the Pope and their children in the eye, they may make their own choices, international obligations be damned.

The lack of butthurt over an ICC prosecution is thus striking for a nation so superficially proud of the Philippine flag tattooed on the arm of Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista).

We obsess over procedural steps but ignore the most crucial ICC principle called “complementarity.” The ICC intervenes when a country is “unwilling or unable” to prosecute.

The ICC’s hefty admission fee is our admission that we have regressed to an infant democracy, incapable of solving our own problems.

We can no longer avoid reflecting on the drug war.

A secret detention cell was discovered in a Tondo police station last April 26. The Inquirer’s Raffy Lerma and other photojournalists have humanized the police’s 1,398 drug-related deaths as of March 2017 (or rights groups’ 7,000).


Last week, Patricia Evangelista detailed a string of Tondo killings, down to spot reports narrating police “sensing that their lives were in imminent danger” before shooting suspects. She documented residents identifying a PO3 Ronald Alvarez as the man who shot their relatives. Also last week, PO1 Vincent Tacorda of Catanduanes publicly resigned after allegedly
being ordered to shoot drug suspects.

But before we ask whether we are “unwilling or unable” to investigate the Alvarezes, we must ask whether we would happily tell the ICC p*tangina because we approve of the drug war.

Candid discussion is impossible. We added back the unfriended after the election, but political discourse grows divisive and absolutist. We are supposedly split between fanatic, bobotante, fake newsmongering Dutertards, and hypocritical, elitist lackeys of oligarchs.

Yet Pulse Asia’s March survey gave President Duterte 76-percent trust and 78-percent approval ratings, and 86-percent trust and 84-percent approval ratings in Class ABC.

A March SWS poll showed that 61 percent of Filipinos approved of the death penalty for heinous crimes. The bill passed in the House of Representatives with 80 percent of the vote.

No one argues that killing is good or calls to rescind our Constitution. But we have yet to candidly discuss the deeper fears and frustrations behind these numbers.

One might secretly feel safer because he personally knew a victim who in fact used drugs. One might secretly wish every addict in his area were shot. One may secretly wish due process is short-circuited, just for a while, with the best of intentions. One may simply feel helpless over so many other problems.

Ultimately, it is the sovereign Filipino people who must decide what to do with the drug war. But we must begin a real discussion quickly, before the next wise guy calls on United Nations peacekeepers to occupy our country.

React: [email protected], Twitter @oscarfbtan, facebook.com/OscarFranklinTan.

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TAGS: drug war, Duterte, Filipino, International Criminal Court (ICC)
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