Carvajal: Where is our self-respect

·2 min read

LONG-TIME friends and associates would know there is no love lost between me and Senator Imee Marcos, none in fact between me and the Marcos family. However, from a motive and effort to be true to my principles and convictions, I must agree with her call to our legal community to “resist” the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) attempt to takeover the case of alleged EJKs (extrajudicial killings) against the Duterte administration.

We insist on exercising sovereignty over disputed (with China) West Philippine Sea (WPS); yet we do not seem to insist on our sovereignty over the indisputably domestic problem of EJKs. We have no business griping about ceding our sovereignty over WPS to China when we are only too willing to cede sovereignty over our rule of law to the ICC.

There is most certainly some, and most probably a lot of, truth to the allegations of extrajudicial killings. And no self-respecting Filipino should tolerate human rights abuses by anybody least of all by his/her own government. Our courts, therefore, our lawyers, our Commission on Human Rights and our whole judicial system should have first crack at initiating whatever legal action is needed to stop the abuses and punish the guilty.

If the ICC should come in, it could only mean our whole judicial system and legal community are “unwilling” or “unable” (translate: do not have the self-respect) to handle the case. For, according to the provision, in its rules and guidelines, on complementarity (the word means no overlapping of jurisdictions in the prosecution of a crime), the ICC can come in only if the state concerned is “unwilling or unable” to prosecute the case on its own.

An international rights group is also insisting that the Philippine National Police (PNP) continue “perpetrating extrajudicial killings” and “obstructing justice.” Knowing our PNP, this is most probably true. Still, if we have self-respect we should dig for the truth about this serious allegation by ourselves.

Don’t tell me the whole Filipino legal community is under President Duterte’s spell and scared of standing up to him. But if that is so, then we have the bigger problem of a lack of the courage to be true to those principles. Foreign states or groups cannot give us the courage of our principles or convictions. They can only deprive us of it by doing for us what we should be doing for ourselves.

Self-respect is generally defined as “pride and confidence in oneself; a feeling that one is behaving with honor and dignity.” Where is national pride and confidence that we should not resist the ICC’s attempt to prosecute the EJK case for us? Where is honor and dignity in allowing a foreign third party to implement our rule of law?