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Duterte and the ICC


Leandro DD Coronel

Leandro DD Coronel

By Leandro DD Coronel


President Duterte probably thinks, or is hoping, quitting the International Criminal Court (ICC) will save him from prosecution there.

The quietly determined lawyer Jude Sabio has filed a case at the ICC for crimes against humanity against Mr. Duterte, later “seconded” by Sen. Sonny Trillanes and Rep. Gary Alejano. The ICC is conducting a preliminary examination.

Duterte, in his usual, snarling petulance, has said he’s withdrawing the Philippines from the ICC. What happened to his bluster about personally arguing his case there?

Duterte had built a reputation for being one tough hombre in Davao City. Actually, as President, he has managed to intimidate a lot of people so far.

Beefed up by cyber trolls and so-called computer “bots” (short for robot), a propaganda machine is constantly spewing out threatening messages to scare critics, who mistakenly believe the messages come from real persons.

Duterte critics should remember that scare messages are programmed threats that flood cyberspace to make it appear it’s real people who are attacking them. The multiple (in hundreds and thousands) attacks are intended to create a bogus groundswell of support for Duterte when in fact the number of messages come only from a small number of computer operators.

In other words if, say, Duterte critic Ago Isidro receives 200,000 attack messages on Facebook, those messages could have possibly been sent by only 10, or even just one, computer operator working out of the propaganda machine.

Anyway, to go back to Mr. Duterte and the ICC, cases lodged there take a long time to move, years usually. So, Duterte may not actually be summoned there while’s he’s president.

But, in the course of the case, Duterte could become an international pariah, considered an undesirable citizen of the civilized world. The consequences of that could be grave.

There could be sanctions from other countries, trade embargos, and withdrawal of diplomatic relations. Mr. Duterte, in his usual, dismissive way, may say there’s always China.

Widespread sanctions could take a heavy toll on Philippine trade. Development aid from multilateral organizations will dry up. And, as my keen social media friend Ding Velasco notes, capital flight will paralyze the economy.

Just like the other despots who’ve been branded for their ruthlessness, Duterte will be known for one thing, that he’s king of EJKs. He will be an outcast in the world community, further making life miserable for overseas Filipino workers.

No doubt, even people in the president’s inner circle are worried about recent developments regarding the ICC, especially his economic managers. Duterte spokesman Harry Roque’s contention that other countries may now follow the Philippines’ lead in withdrawing from the ICC, leading to ICC’s breakup, is totally devoid of logic and really just wishful thinking.

The ICC case may take a snail’s pace through the ICC labyrinth but that won’t matter. As long as the case is alive there, Mr. Duterte’s life will be an unsettled one, with the stigma of being an international pariah constantly hanging over his head like a Sword of Damocles.


Tantrum Ergo. In the statement read recently at the Supreme Court calling on Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resign, she was addressed as “Ang mahal naming Punong Mahistrado.” Why even bother calling her “mahal”? Isn’t that the height of hypocrisy?

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