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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Dela Rosa makes baseless claim that ‘no crimes against humanity’ occurred in the Philippine drug war

WHAT WAS CLAIMED

If Filipinos would be asked, they would say that there are no crimes against humanity that occurred in the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

OUR VERDICT

No basis:

The ICC considers a “widespread or systematic” attack on a civilian population pursuant to a state policy, whether explicit or not, as one of the main elements of crimes against humanity.

In August 2021, the Victims Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS), an independent office under the ICC, reported that approximately 1,530 individual victims and 1,050 families expressed ”overwhelming support” for Khan to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of crimes against humanity in relation to the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign. This disputes Del Rosa’s assertion that Filipinos would say there are no crimes against humanity happening in the country.

Oct 4, 2022

VERA Files

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Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, the chief implementer of the controversial war on drugs during the Duterte administration, claimed without citing proof that no crimes against humanity occurred in the government’s anti-drug campaign.

STATEMENT

During a Sept. 28 interview on CNN Philippines, Dela Rosa said:

Kung tanungin mo naman ang Pilipino, wala namang nangyayaring crimes against humanity dito sa ating bansa (If you ask Filipinos, there are no crimes against humanity happening in our country). For all we know, the Filipino should know it more than Mr. Khan …”

 

Source: CNN Philippines, ICC prosecutor, binatikos ukol sa pagbukas ng drug war probe | News Night, Sept. 28, 2022, watch from 06:37 to 06:48

In a press briefing earlier that day at the Senate, Dela Rosa said he cannot understand why Prosecutor Karim Khan of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is insisting on resuming the investigation.

FACT

The ICC considers a “widespread or systematic” attack on a civilian population pursuant to a state policy, whether explicit or not, as one of the main elements of crimes against humanity.

In August 2021, the Victims Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS), an independent office under the ICC, reported that approximately 1,530 individual victims and 1,050 families expressed ”overwhelming support” for Khan to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of these alleged drug-related crimes against humanity.

 

The expression of support for the victims was among the factors considered by the Pre-Trial Chamber, a judicial branch of the ICC, when it granted the request of then ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to start the probe in September 2021.  Khan succeeded Bensouda  in June 2021.

In its decision on Bensouda’s request, the chamber wrote:

“In conclusion, the Chamber finds that it has been sufficiently established for the purpose of an authorisation to investigate that the contextual elements of crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Statute have been met with respect to the killings in the Philippines between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the so-called ‘war on drugs’ campaign.”

 

Source: International Criminal Court official website, Decision on the Prosecutor’s request for authorisation of an investigation pursuant to Article 15(3) of the Statute, Sept. 15, 2021

The chamber authorized the investigation into the deaths of 12,000 to 30,000 suspected drug personalities during the Duterte administration from July 1, 2016 to March 16, 2019, as well as the killings by vigilante groups in the Davao region from November 2011 to June 2016. The investigation will also look into related crimes of sexual violence, unlawful imprisonment and torture, among others.

 

 

Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Fill out this reader request form.

 

Sources

CNN Philippines, ICC prosecutor, binatikos ukol sa pagbukas ng drug war probe | News Night, Sept. 28, 2022

Senate of the Philippines official Facebook page, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa reacts to International Criminal Court decision to continue its probe…, Sept. 28, 2022

International Criminal Court official website, Annex I Public Redacted Registry Report on Victims’ Representations, Aug. 27, 2021

International Criminal Court official website, Decision on the Prosecutor’s request for authorisation of an investigation pursuant to Article 15(3) of the Statute, Sept. 15, 2021

International Criminal Court official website, Annex I Public Redacted (Victims’ additional observations), Sept. 22, 2022

International Criminal Court official website, Public Redacted Version of “Prosecution’s Response to the Philippine Government’s Observations on the Prosecution’s Request to Resume Investigations (ICC-01/21-51, filed 8 September 2022)”, Sept. 22, 2022

International Criminal Court official website, Prosecution’s request to resume the investigation into the situation in the Philippines pursuant to article 18(2), June 24 2022

International Criminal Court official website, Elements of Crime, Accessed Sep. 30, 2022

International Criminal Court official website, VPRS Victim’s Booklet [ENG], Accessed Sep. 30, 2022

International Criminal Court official website, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Accessed Sep. 30, 2022

Supreme Court official website, G.R. No. 238875/G.R. No. 239483/G.R. No. 24095, March 16, 2021

 

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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