By Felipe F. Salvosa II

Former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares.

Former Bayan Muna congressman Neri Colmenares believes President Rodrigo Duterte is somewhat worried over the complaints filed against him at the International Criminal Court (ICC), pointing to recent statements by the Chief Executive denying that he had ordered the killing of drug suspects.

“Tingin ko may kaba siya sa ICC…It (Duterte’s statements) is of course meant to cover his tracks,” Colmenares told reporters during the Saturday Forum at Annabels restaurant in Quezon City.

In Sochi last week, Duterte told the Valdai International Discussion Club hosted by Russian leader Vladimir Putin: “I am not a killer,” clarifying earlier statements to law enforcers to destroy drug dealers and syndicates.

“Killing girls maybe, woman. We are good at that. I have yet to kill one human being. When I say ‘I will kill you,’ well, that’s a statement coming from the mouth of a President,” Duterte said on Oct. 3.

Duterte, a lawyer, knows that “Admissions against interest is one of the highest admissions in law,” Colmenares said.

“When he said ‘kill,’ the number of killings rose,” the former lawmaker said.

Colmenares and other lawyers representing victims of the Duterte government’s drug war filed last week a supplemental pleading arguing that drug war killings have continued, and that the UN Human Rights Council had itself called for a probe into extrajudicial killings.

Based on official data, 5,526 people have been killed in police drug operations, including 74 minors.

Thousands more “deaths under investigation” were state-sponsored, Colmenares also claimed, citing a “pattern of evidence.”

The pattern is as follows:

a. public vilification of the victims by the president;

b. brazenness of the acts committed, which indicated that only state authorities were behind them; and

c. complete lack of interest to investigate.

The ICC case over the drug war killings will proceed despite the country’s withdrawal in March from the Rome Statute that created the international court, Colmenares insisted, as such withdrawal takes effect after a year. ICC complaints were filed against Duterte in April 2017 and August 2018.

Colmenares also pointed out that Duterte is immune from suit and thus, there are really no legal avenues to hold him accountable, except the ICC.

“No legal argument from him (Duterte) will defeat the aims of international law,” Colmenares said. (