Arroyo, 18 lawmakers want House to declare 'unequivocal defense' for Duterte against ICC probe

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 16) — Several lawmakers have called on the House of Representatives to declare its unequivocal defense of former President Rodrigo Duterte against any probe by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Senior Deputy Speaker and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was one of 19 lawmakers who introduced House Resolution (HR) 780 which urged the lower chamber to back Duterte against the ICC.

This came after the ICC's pre-trial chamber authorized last month the resumption of the investigation into the Philippines’ bloody drug war.

It covers extrajudicial killings (EJKs) allegedly committed between November 2011 and March 2019 covering Duterte's mayorship and vice mayorship in Davao City until midway in his presidency.

READ: ICC authorizes prosecutor to resume probe into PH drug war

The ICC temporarily halted the probe in November 2021 after the Philippine government requested its deferral.

The authors of HR 780 said that Duterte's presidency "ushered remarkable accomplishments brought about by his relentless campaign against illegal drugs, insurgency, separatism and terrorism, corruption in government and criminality thus making the life of every Filipino better, comfortable and peaceful."

They also reiterated Duterte's belief that the fight against illegal drugs, crime, and corruption was a "prerequisite for achieving genuine growth and prosperity."

Local and international human rights groups have estimated that between 12,000 and 30,000 people were killed in the former administration's flagship war on drugs.

The administration has been accused of committing crimes against humanity and EJKs in the campaign.

HR 780 added that the Philippines has a functioning and independent judicial system. When the ICC first halted its probe, this was one of the arguments made by the country when it requested to defer the investigation.

"Be it resolved as it is hereby resolved, that the House of Representatives declares unequivocal defense of Duterte, the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines, in any investigation and/or prosecution by the ICC," HR 780 concluded.

The resolution has yet to be read in the plenary where other lawmakers can interpellate against its adoption.

For his part, Duterte, through Atty. Harry Roque, said he would only face local courts in cases related to the drug war he spearheaded.

The Philippines withdrew from the ICC in March 2019. In August 2022, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the country would not rejoin the ICC.

Aside from Arroyo, the 18 other lawmakers who authored the resolution were:

Pampanga Rep. Carmelo Lazatin Jr.

Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales

Pampanga Rep. Anna York Bondoc-Sagum

Palawan Rep. Jose Alvarez

Caloocan Rep. Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy

Leyte Rep. Richard Gomez

Masbate Rep. Wilton Kho

Laguna Rep. Loreto Amante

Palawan Rep. Edward Hagedorn

Paranaque Rep. Edwin Olivarez

Valenzuela Rep. Eric Martinez

Cebu Rep. Eduardo Rama Jr.

Agusan Del Norte Rep. Dale Corvera

Siquijor Rep. Zaldy Villa

Laguna Rep. Ma. Rene Ann Lourdes Matibag

Lanao Del Norte Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo

Surigao Del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel

Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas