Update from U.P. LL.M Prof. Ted Te (International Criminal Law) ICC Case vs. Pres. Duterte, Prosecutor’s Conclusions and Request for Relief (Investigation) dated June 14, 2021

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From U.P. LL.M Prof. Ted Te (International Criminal Court), update: Full Text from the ICC Prosecutor at:


EXCERPTS of the full text (footnotes omitted) :




No.: ICC-01/21

Date: 14 June 2021

Public redacted version of “Request for authorisation of an investigation

pursuant to article 15(3)”, 24 May 2021, ICC-01/21-7-SECRET-Exp

Source: Office of the Prosecutor



    “2. The Prosecution submits that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the Crime

Against Humanity of Murder was committed from at least 1 July 2016 to 16 March 2019 in

the context of the Philippine government’s “war on drugs” (“WoD”) campaign. Information

obtained by the Prosecution suggests that state actors, primarily members of the Philippine security forces, (footnote1)killed thousands of suspected drug users and other civilians during official law enforcement operations. Markedly similar crimes were committed outside official police operations, reportedly by so-called “vigilantes”, although information suggests that some vigilantes were in fact police officers, while others were private citizens recruited, coordinated, and paid by police to kill civilians. The total number of civilians killed in connection with the WoD (“war on drugs”) between July 2016 and March 2019 appears to be between 12,000 and 30,000. (footnote2)

     “3. These extrajudicial killings, perpetrated across the Philippines, appear to have been committed pursuant to an official State policy of the Philippine government. Police and other government officials planned, ordered, and sometimes directly perpetrated extrajudicial killings. They paid police officers and vigilantes bounties for extrajudicial killings. State officials at the highest levels of government also spoke publicly and repeatedly in support of extrajudicial killings, and created a culture of impunity for those who committed them.

      “4. The same types of actors also allegedly committed strikingly similar crimes in the city and region of Davao (“Davao”), starting in 1988 and continuing through 2016. Given the similarities between those killings and the nationwide WoD killings from July 2016 to March 2019, and the overlap of individuals involved during both periods, the Prosecution requests that the 2011-2016 events in Davao be included within the requested investigation.

      “5. The Court has jurisdiction over these crimes. While the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Statute took effect on 17 March 2019, the Court retains jurisdiction with respect to alleged crimes that occurred on the territory of the Philippines while it was a State Party, from 1 November 2011 up to and including 16 March 2019.


“64. The information above indicates that, contrary to official claims, many WoD killings by law enforcement were not justified. The use of force employed appears to have been unnecessary and disproportionate under the circumstances, and the killings therefore arbitrary and unlawful. (footnote164) The Prosecution however acknowledges that a limited number of killings during official police operations may have been lawful acts of self-defence under article 31(1)(c) of the Statute. The role of self-defence or other justification in particular incidents will be examined on a case-by-case basis in the context of any authorised investigation.


“d.Modus operandi

     “74. Vigilante-style killings appear to most often fit one of three different types of scenarios. In one reported type of scenario, done in public, the perpetrator(s) arrived on motorbike –usually in pairs “riding in tandem” – or in a van, wearing hoods, caps, motorcycle helmets, or masks to conceal their faces. The perpetrators shot the victim, often at close range, usually in the head or chest (sometimes multiple times), and then swiftly fled the area.185 Sources have highlighted that these killings, committed in public, were carried out in a manner suggesting they were conducted by professionally trained individuals. (footnote186)

“75. In another type of incident, the perpetrators targeted victims in their homes. (footnote187) Some victims were shot when they answered the door; in other cases, the perpetrator forcibly entered the premises and killed the victim. (footnote188) Perpetrators sometimes instructed others to leave the room or house, or took other measures to clear the area prior to carrying out the killing. (footnote189). Such incidents appear to bear notable similarities – in terms of manner and course of events – to raids carried out by the police during official anti-drug operations. (footnote190)


“124. The information indicates that law enforcement and members of DDS killed more than 1,000 people in Davao from 1988 to 2016.331 In 2015 Duterte publicly stated that “around 1,700” people had been killed. (footnote332). For the period 2011-2015, the information indicates that there were around 385 victims of extrajudicial killings in Davao. (footnote333) The majority of victims were young men suspected of involvement in small-scale drug dealing or minor crimes such as petty theft and drug use, while gang members and street children were also killed.

     “125. The persons alleged to have perpetrated the pre-2016 killings in Davao are groups of local police officers and vigilantes, notably the DDS (which included both police officers and private citizens). (footnote335) [REDACTED].

336 The available information suggests that local law enforcement were heavily involved in the DDS, and that some DDS members were in fact police. (footnote337)

  “126. Persons involved in pre-2016 killings in Davao in some cases appear to be the very same people that were later involved in the WoD (war on drugs). Reuters documented the transfer of a group of police officers from Davao to Station 6 in Quezon City in Metro Manila after July 2016, one of whom said that Davao police brought “special kill skills” to Quezon. (footnote338) Moreover, after Duterte became President, some law enforcement personnel formerly based in Davao were promoted to command positions which were key to the execution of Duterte’s national WoD. (footnote339) Just as he has done as President, (footnote340) Mayor Duterte made statements publicly supporting and encouraging the killing of petty criminals and drug dealers in Davao, including, notably, during the 2011-2016 period. In 2015, Duterte announced that he maintained order in Davao by killing criminals.(footnote341) [REDACTED].


 “127. The pattern of killings observed in Davao was virtually the same as the one reported during the WoD in 2016-2019. Sources also indicate that members of law enforcement killed suspected drug personalities in the course of anti-drug operations, and conducted visits to houses of suspected drug pushers, in operations known as “tuktok”, which appeared to follow a similar model to the Tokhang operations carried out during the WoD from 2016. (footnote343) Perpetrators of killings reportedly received payments for “successful” operations, with higher rewards for larger targets. (footnote344) Impunity is another consistently reported feature of the pre-2016 alleged killings.(footnote345)

 “128. In conclusion, the available information indicates that the similarities between alleged crimes committed in Davao in 2011-2016 and the post-2016 WoD include: an asserted rationale for extrajudicial killings of fighting crime and drug use; public encouragement of killings by Duterte; an apparently consistent modus operandi and other shared features, such as advance warning, coordination between police and barangay officials in targeting victims,and payment for killings and subsequent impunity; perpetrators appear to be police and vigilantes; and the majority of victims appear to be drug users and petty criminals. Indeed, some sources have described the WoD as “rolling out on a national scale” the model which Duterte “honed” in Davao. (footnote346) These similarities demonstrate that the 2011-2016 events are sufficiently linked to the 2016-2019 events and should be included in the investigation


    “131. For the reasons set out in this Request and on the basis of the supporting material submitted to the Chamber, the Prosecution requests the Chamber to authorise the commencement of an investigation into the Situation in the Philippines, in relation to crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the WoD campaign, as well as any other crimes which are sufficiently linked to these events.

                   (SGD)Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor”

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