‘Bakit matatakot?: Reactions to House’s ‘unequivocal defense’ of Duterte, drug war

February 17, 2023 - 11:51 AM
Duterte_Talk to the People
President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with key government officials at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on June 6, 2022. (PCOO/Joey Dalumpines)

“Bakit matatakot kung wala naman kasalanan?”

This is the prevailing question of Filipino online users after lawmakers filed a House resolution that seeks to defend former President Rodrigo Duterte, who is facing an investigation at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his bloody drug war.

The resolution was filed by former president and now House senior deputy speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, along with 18 other lawmakers.  

The resolution aims to provide Duterte with an “unequivocal defense” in any investigation and/or prosecution by the ICC. 

The resolution also claimed that Duterte’s presidency has made the “life of every Filipino better, comfortable, and peaceful.”

Based on government data, 6,252 people died during anti-drug operations. 

Demand for accountability

Following the filing of the resolution that seeks to protect Duterte from the ICC, social media users questioned the lower chamber’s move. They argued that there is no need for “unequivocal defense” if Duterte really did nothing wrong. 

“If walang ginagawang masama bakit unequivocally defensive mga besh? Let the truth come out. If he was innocent then so be it. If not then maybe it is time to face the consequences,” a Twitter user said

“May mga buhay na nawala. Marami [diyan] inosente and yet the drug problem was never solved,” he added.

“What is this??? They are outright using the law to protect their ranks!!! To protect Duterte!!” Anakbayan Philippines national chairperson Jeann Miranda said

“Bakit matatakot kung wala naman kasalanan? Aber?” an online user wrote

“What are we so afraid of? Let justice run its course,” a Facebook user commented

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer and former Supreme Court spokesperson Ted Te said that the “best ‘unequivocal defense’ from the reach of the ICC is to investigate, charge, and try him in a PH court with the crimes the ICC is investigating.”

‘Grave insult to EJK victims’

Human rights group Karapatan said the House Resolution calling for “unequivocal defense” of Duterte in the ICC probe is a “grave insult to thousands of extrajudicial victims and their families.”

“Let it be noted that initiators of this resolution are among those in government who cheered on Duterte and are now seemingly aiding him in evading accountability – while poor Filipinos were summarily killed,” the group said. 

On the other hand, Human Rights Watch said that the House resolution has “no bearing” on the ICC investigation and that it is a “political move.”

“They’re merely circling the wagon. But it’s immaterial as far as the resumption of investigation goes,” HRW said. 

The group also said that the “only way the Philippine government can head off an investigation by the ICC was to demonstrate that it was willing and able to deliver justice for victims of the drug war.”

“The government was given the opportunity to show that its justice system was working enough to make the ICC superfluous, the pre-trial chamber came to the conclusion that it failed,” HRW said.

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