Wrong timing for ICC decision?
Wrong timing is perhaps the best description for the recent announcement that former International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has requested the ICC judges to authorize an investigation into the Philippines’ war on drugs.
While legally a good move to exact accountability for the industrial-scale abuses committed by hoodlums in uniform who are likely benefiting from illegal drugs themselves, the fear of international criminal prosecution will likely compel President Duterte and his allies to seek political office beyond 2022 to shield from any impending indictment.
Given Mr. Duterte’s popularity and control of state resources, an ICC investigation will likely be manipulated by the administration’s spin doctors into an electoral issue to depict Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs as a manifestation of the government’s policy independence from foreign interference. The threat of an ICC investigation will be maliciously framed as the West “punishing” the Duterte administration, similar to a David versus Goliath narrative. Those already in power will cling even more desperately to their posts as a matter of survival. The elections in 2022 will thus be likely to be the most volatile in recent history.
With the Filipino voters’ psyche always rooting for the underdog, the electoral storyline for the Duterte administration is not going to be difficult to guess. If indeed the goal is to launch a strong criminal prosecution to call to task those who have committed and condoned abuses in the name of the war on drugs, the ICC should wait for the right time for those in power to be quietly eased out through the people’s electoral choices, and then pounce on them with the majestic power of international justice.
MARA MAE DATINGSARAP
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.