‘Closer to justice’: Drug war victims kin ready to cooperate with ICC probe

July 18, 2023 - 6:54 PM
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Normita Lopez, 56, is photographed while holding a portrait of her son Djastin Lopez, in a church nearby her home in Manila, Philippines, June 15, 2021. Lopez, whose son was a victim of the Philippines' bloody narcotics campaign, is among the many International Criminal Court (ICC) complainants calling for President Rodrigo Duterte's international indictment over thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Families of drug war victims are prepared to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the impending probe in the Philippines.

The group called Rise Up for Life and for Rights or Rise Up issued this statement after the ICC Appeal Chambers rejected the country’s appeal to block this investigation on Tuesday, July 18.

In a summary of the decision, Presiding Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut said that Manila’s appeal to stop the reopening of ICC’s investigation was “rejected by the appeals chamber by the majority.”

This, therefore, means that ICC will continue to look into the thousands of killings during the previous administration’s drug war campaign.

READ: ICC ruling opens way to investigation on killings in Philippines 

In their statement reaction, Rise Up members welcomed the ruling. They also expressed willingness to cooperate in hopes that such development would bring them closer to justice.

“Victims of the drug-war killings and their advocates are ready to cooperate with the investigation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as it pushes forward. Today’s decision by the Appeals Chamber of the ICC built confidence with those victimized by the widespread and systematic killings under the ‘war on drugs’ of the Duterte administration,” they said.

“Oriented on how the ICC works, the families have hope that this moves us closer to justice,” the group added.

Amy Jane Lee of Rise Up, on behalf of the bereaved families, also said that they will not falter from their clamor for justice even amid the continuous violence under the current administration.

“Patuloy po kaming magsasalita, patuloy po kaming maghahanap ng hustisya, patuloy po kaming lalaban! Hindi na president si Duerte pero tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang patayan. At kami na nga ang naagrabyado, bakit kami ang mangingimi o mahihiya?” Lee said.

“Sa totoo, hindi mapapawi yung sakit ng pagkawala dahil lang sa sinabi ngayon ng ICC. Mapapawi ito ng panahon, ng pagkilala at pagpapakumbaba ng mga umagrabyado, at ng pagpapangot sa maysala,” she added.

Rise Up members earlier witnessed the ICC pass down its judgment at a gathering in Quezon City.

They also called for others who were affected by the still-ongoing “war on drugs” policy, along with churches and civic organizations, to join them in their quest for justice and accountability from the government.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Philippines, meanwhile, said that the Marcos administration should cooperate with the ICC, citing their previous commitment to promoting human rights.

“The ICC appeals judges’ ruling marks the next step toward justice for victims of ‘drug war’ killings and their families,” Bryony Lau, Deputy Asia Director of HRW said.

“The Marcos administration should back up its stated commitment to human rights and the fight against impunity by following through on its international legal obligation to cooperate with the court’s investigation,” Lau added.

Human rights groups BAYAN, Karapatan and iDefend also cheered and welcomed ICC’s decision.

They called on and hoped for the national government to support the ICC in upholding human rights in the country.