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NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 09 May) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) will have a great haul of criminals in 2024. Accordingly, the ICC will be netting prominent Filipino politicians who committed crimes against humanity in the person of former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD), incumbent Vice President Sara Duterte, and sitting Senators Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa and Cristopher “Bong” Go.

All were (allegedly) involved in the bloody war on illegal drugs in the Philippines from 2012 to 2019.

The ICC star witness, Arturo Lascañas, testified that former President Duterte drug-related criminal activities began when he was mayor of Davao City. He created the Heinous Crime Task Group Office, mandating his man Friday Go to direct police station commanders to organize their own death squads under said office, “to lethally foil and neutralize the alleged growing numbers of shabu users and pushers in Davao City.” This core group became the notorious Davao Death Squad (DDS).

The order to the Death Squad to liquidate a drug suspect came from Mayor Duterte, himself, and sometimes thru SPO4 Sonny Buenaventura and Bong Go.

Lascañas, who figured prominently as one of the key operators of the DDS, claimed that Sara Duterte, the pasimuno or initiator of Tokhang, ordered the elimination of some 10,000 drug personalities.  Those killed were buried in a quarry – a mass grave – to avoid any trace of their disappearance. Ronald Bato dela Rosa adopted Tokhang as a national program to end the drug menace when he was named chief of the Philippine National Police by PRRD.

Bato is confident that the ICC may issue a warrant for their arrest but can’t touch them because the Philippine government won’t cooperate with their agents; it would not unleash the police force to run after them.

Or so he believes because of the assurance of now President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during the campaign period that not a single strand of his (Duterte) hair will be touched by the ICC. Marcos would not, accordingly, allow the ICC to step on Philippine soil.

But the ICC did come last December 2023 and conducted an intensive investigation on the drug cases against the accused.

The Dutertes went ballistic on this development, lambasting Marcos for ingratitude; accusing him as a drug addict, a liar who is trying to perpetuate himself in power by Charter change through people’s initiative. In the trading of barbs, the losers naturally are those hunted by the ICC, which includes Bato, who found himself getting crushed in between the banging titans.

Thus crumbled the unholy alliance. The battleground had been drawn. There is no more an impediment for the ICC to arrest all the accused.

Bato has now all the reasons to get panicky.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental.)

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