It’s time for some hard stats. Over the past three months, serious crime in the Philippines has fallen by 36.54% from the last three months of 2015. In numbers it looks like this. There were 50,146 offences – ranging from murder, rape and physical assault to robbery, theft and car jacking – in the months of July, August and September last year. In the corresponding months of this year the number of these offences totalled 31,820. That’s an average of 6,108 fewer serious crimes every 30 days.
Less-serious crimes, such as illegal logging and failure to comply with local bye laws and ordinances – contravention of mining standards, for example – also dropped, though by a more modest 11.45%. There were 118,126 of these offences in July-September 2015, compared to 104,600 for the 3rd Quarter of this year.
Don’t expect any applause or even acknowledgement from outside the camp of support for President Rodrigo Duterte – massive though that camp is. Embarrassing though these results are to the previous administration, they will be largely ignored.
And, predictably, they are being disregarded by the cabal of anti-Duterte forces in the international arena for exactly the same reason. They don’t fit the narrative of a crazed madman who bathes in blood – a man who is wrong for the Philippines. After all, how can they argue that the president is encouraging violence in his homeland when the figures clearly show that in three short months he has significantly reduced violent crime and made the country safer for his people?
And so, brushing all that aside as an irrelevance, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – Fatou Bensouda, another elitist Lefty lawyer who’s built a comfortable career from the trough of human-rights litigation – is looking to raise her profile by flying a balloon suggesting that the ICC might have jurisdiction over the Philippines to prosecute those responsible for extrajudicial killings during Duterte’s war on drugs.
We should add here that Her Honour, Mz Bensouda, is alleged to have participated in a financial scam with her husband, Gambian-Moroccan businessman, Philip, involving fraud and influence peddling. If that’s true, she should be the one in court – and not seated on the bench, but facing it from the dock. And, of course, Duterte’s arch attacker and an alleged illegal-drug-beneficiary, Senator Leila De Lima’s hand is somewhere in all this – the script’s not difficult to follow. But that’s all an irrelevance also. To continue …
“I am deeply concerned about these alleged killings and the fact that public statements of high officials of the republic [sic] of the Philippines seem to condone such killings,” said Bensouda in a statement. She believes a case could be brought if they have been “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population”.
From this it is clear that she has Duterte and the Director-General of the Philippine National Police, Ronald dela Rosa, in her sights. She is also confident – given the repeated attacks against the Philippine administration by the UN, the EU, the US State Department and a flotilla of NGOs – that her target is a soft one.
The realities, however, suggest that is not the case. First, the UN Security Council is never going to refer this matter to the ICC; China and Russia would most definitely oppose it; so that avenue is closed. Secondly, the Philippines joined the ICC in 2011 and is well within its rights to leave it if it suspects that the court is being used as a mechanism to influence the internal affairs of its sovereignty. However, withdrawal becomes effective one year after notification and any prosecution that has already been brought would proceed.
Thirdly, with the exception of Cambodia, the Philippines is the only member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to be a party of the ICC. Thus, prosecuting an Asean member – in a region that universally takes a hard line against criminals – will do little for the ICC’s efforts to draw future signatories from this region.
Fourthly, most of the ICC’s prior cases – brought against countries in Bensouda’s native Africa – involved governments with which the masses were frustrated and angry and wanted removed. In the Philippines, if anything, it’s the opposition to Duterte which the masses want gone. Certainly, the last thing they wish to see is those crime statistics moving back the other way. And, of course, no prosecution can be effective without the cooperation of the state, and that’s certainly not going to be forthcoming in this instance.
And fifthly, the only genocide and crimes against humanity that have been going on in the Philippines have been at the hands of illegal-drug corporations, prostitution rings and large criminal enterprises – none of which, apparently, are of the slightest interest to the ICC. Duterte was elected to rid his country of these destructive elements. That is the people’s will. That is democracy. If she and her court decide, through their lack of wisdom, to charge members of this administration with any such crime, that would be a massive miscalculation. It would reap a world wind.
No Mz Bensouda, the Philippines is not a soft target for the furtherment of your career. It’s a target that could end it and do tremendous damage to the integrity of the ICC in the process. And that integrity is already in question. To date all ICC cases have only been brought against African countries. This has led to a backlash on the continent with the court being charged as a “tool of Western imperialism” and of focusing exclusively on small African states.
This then would seem to be part of Bensouda’s calculations. If she can prosecute Duterte and others in the furthest reaches of Southeast Asia that would show that the ICC is not purely Afro-centric. It would make it more legitimate as a global body.
Using an international court to pursue a political agenda is no different to the kangaroo justice that exists in many parts of Africa. But then maybe that’s Bensouda’s model for the ICC. Certainly, that’s what it look like right now.
This, then, in every respect is an ill-advised adventure which moves from the safe haven of prosecuting unpopular corrupt African politicians to an attempt to bring down one of the most revered leaders on Planet Earth.