IPT’s guilty verdict finds PH govt violating international humanitarian law

May 21, 2024

The IPT decision on the atrocities committed by former president Duterte and current president Marcos Jr is extremely welcome. The verdict draws its moral and ethical authority from high human rights standards and jurors independent of elite-dominated global power structures. 

It can be brought with confidence to official government and international bodies, and especially to the general public. It gives voice to their victims and sends notice that Duterte and Marcos will be held accountable for their war crimes regardless of their position or power.

The decision was made unanimously by the jury after a two-day hearing that ended on May 18, 2024. 

On the first day, Former President Duterte was tried for accounts of extrajudicial killings, tortures, enforced disappearances, and attacks on indigenous communities defending ancestral lands against mining projects, the brutal killing of Ka Randall Echanis, unarmed NDFP Consultant who was murdered in his sleep, the further militarization under the Martial Law in Mindanao among other war crimes.

On the second day, charges against the current Marcos Jr.’s Administration were covered. Jonila Castro stood on the witness stand and gave a compelling testimony about her and her colleague  Jhed Tamano’s abduction and interrogation by the military. Another witness described the indiscriminate aerial bombardment of communities in Kalinga Province, and the failure of the military to respect the rights of prisoners of war under the Geneva conventions after murdering 5 captured rebels in Bohol. 

Lastly, the US Government was found guilty by supporting the war crimes of these regimes. According to Teddy Casino, a resource person on counterinsurgency in the Philippines stated that the current counterinsurgency program of the Philippine government is inspired, financed, trained and supplied by the United States government.

According to the IPT Philippines, the weight of the combined evidence compelled the jury to issue the guilty verdict. The International People’s Tribunal is another platform in the struggle for justice by the victims and their families from the various forms of human rights violations. 

The IPT is a quasi judicial entity that aims to investigate war crimes and violations to the International Humanitarian Law.  

From the administration of former Pres. Duterte to the present Pres. Marcos Jr. ‘s Administration, the democratic spaces have shrunk significantly. An increasing number of CSOs face threats and harassment, hindering their development work and impacting heavily on the communities they serve. There have been 19 CSOs in the Philippines with their bank accounts frozen by the Anti – Money Laundering Commission (AMLC) on the basis of unfounded terrorism financing accusations. 

CPDG Spokesperson Liza Maza says the Philippine government should take the guilty verdict seriously and address swiftly and judiciously the serious violations on the Filipino people’s human rights as it reflects the reality Pres. Marcos Jr.’s kind of governance. “The state of human rights in the country has been far from improving. The challenge to reclaim the democratic spaces and seek justice for the victims of human rights violations is more urgent than ever. We call on all CSOs to unite in pushing back against the state attacks and repression, and together assert the people’s right to development”, stressed Maza.#eof#