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Int’l tribunal hears testimony from war crime victims in the Philippines, slams US-Marcos hypocrisy on human rights

BRUSSELS, BE – The International People’s Tribunal (IPT) on the war crimes of the US-backed Duterte and Marcos Jr. regimes convened on Thursday May 17th in Brussels, hearing opening statements from the tribunal’s prosecution team, as well as testimonies from expert witnesses and war crime victims. 

“While the US trumpet their support for the ICC’s case against Duterte, their concurrent backing and financing of Marcos Jr.’s ‘counterinsurgency’ programs in the Philippines–rife with violations of international humanitarian law–exposes their blatant hypocrisy on human rights. This selective condemnation underscores a disturbing trend: US backing provides war criminals free rein,” said Teddy Casino, chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) who testified during the tribunal as an expert resource person. 

Casino referred to the U.S. State Department’s recent statement supporting Marcos Jr.’s openness to the ICC’s investigation on the Duterte regime’s ‘drug war.’

The tribunal bore witness to cases of red-tagging, extrajudicial killings, destruction of indigenous schools, massacres, and desecration of combatant remains committed by Philippine state forces, indicating a continued degradation of the human rights condition in the Philippines under the US-supported Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration. 

“In the past administrations up to the current Marcos regime, the Lumad communities continue to experience militarization, killings of our relatives, destruction of our ancestral lands and worsening poverty” shared witness Eufemia Cullamat, a Filipina farmer and second Manobo to serve on the Philippine House of Representatives under the Bayan-Muna partylist group. 

Cullamat’s daughter Jevelyn, an unarmed combatant of the New People’s Army, was executed by the AFP in 2020. Jevelyn’s remains were also desecrated by soldiers, a war crime under international humanitarian law.

“The military paraded Jevelyn’s body without mercy and respect. They say my daughter died in a military encounter with the NPA. To prove this, the military arranged her body and deliberately placed a gun on her chest to show that she held it,” Cullamat added. 

Presiding juror Lennox Hinds – former legal counsel to Nelson Mandela – brought the tribunal to order after welcome remarks from co-convening and endorsing organizations. Notably, lead juror Hines confirmed that no representative of Duterte, Marcos Jr., or the U.S. government was present, despite a certified service of summons and indictment presented by the tribunal’s clerk of court.  

Following a reading of the indictment abstract for the IPT jurors, lead prosecutor Jan Fermon noted that “despite President Marcos Jr.’s assertions of a departure from Duterte’s human rights record, the reality remains starkly similar. Impunity is still prevailing as prosecutions for extrajudicial killings amount to mere token gestures in the face of systemic injustice.” 

“The verdict of this tribunal will empower the Filipino people and their allies across the globe to demand accountability from those responsible for these heinous crimes,” added Fermon.

Speaking on people’s rights to self-determination and the significance of the tribunal, Thomas Jefferson School of Law professor and expert witness Marjorie Cohn shared: “I want to emphasize that peoples’ tribunals, while political in nature, can serve as alternative fora, and provide a peoples’ record for future litigation, both nationally and internationally. Officials of the Philippine government and the US government who enable the commission of these crimes should be held accountable in national courts under the principle of universal jurisdiction.”  


Contact: IPT 2024 Media team [email protected] or via mobile +31681352516