International court finds Marcos and Duterte guilty of war crimes, violations of international humanitarian law

On Saturday, May 18, the International Peoples Tribunal (IPT) found Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Rodrigo Duterte, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), and the United States government guilty of war crimes against the Filipino people and violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). (Photo Credit: IPT2024)

BRUSSELS, BE — The International Peoples Tribunal (IPT) on Saturday May 18th issued a guilty verdict to Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Rodrigo Duterte, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the United States government for war crimes against the Filipino people and violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). 

In a 10-page decision signed by an international panel of jurors including former legal counsel to Nelson Mandela, Prof. Lennox Hinds, the tribunal found “a steady rise in cases of abduction and enforced disappearance perpetrated by GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) forces against activists.”

“We want to stop the pattern of killings, abductions, and fake surrenders — we want the government to stop equating activists as combatants, and to surface all missing activists. We demand to hold state forces accountable,” stated Jonila Castro, a witness and youth activist with AKAP Ka Manila Bay, who was abducted, tortured and presented as a rebel surrenderee by the Philippine military last year. 

The guilty verdict was welcomed by more than 200 observers in Brussels, who heard demands for justice from expert witnesses, direct victims like Castro, and family members of deceased victims of the US-directed counterinsurgency operations over two days of IPT proceedings. 

“We found substantial and compelling evidence of widespread extrajudicial killings, civilian massacres, enforced disappearances, indiscriminate bombings, and other gross violations of international humanitarian law. The atrocities and anti-people policies and actions of Mr. Duterte appear to persist and intensify under the current Marcos Jr. administration,” stated Séverine de Laveleye, member of the Belgian Parliament and IPT juror.

The tribunal determined, in a 10-page ruling endorsed by an international panel of jurors that included former legal counsel to Nelson Mandela, Prof. Lennox Hinds, that “activists have been subjected to an increasing number of abductions and enforced disappearances by GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) forces.” (Photo Credit: IPT2024)

Elaborating on the basis of the guilty verdict, Laveleye stated, “our decision is founded on the comprehensive examination of the evidence presented. The testimonies of the witnesses, many of whom have shown tremendous courage by coming forward, played a crucial role in shaping our understanding of the systemic abuses perpetrated under these regimes with the tacit support of the US.”

“The defendants in this case have been duly notified, failed to respond, failed to provide witnesses, and are therefore deemed to have waived their rights,” noted lead juror Lennox Hinds before convening the jurors to deliberate on the verdict. “The evidence presented was credible and consistent,” said Hinds, as witnesses shared an inability to seek justice in the Philippines due to neglect of the judicial process of the GRP, or due to harassment and intimidation by GRP authorities themselves. 

“We demand justice for the killing of our family. They were innocent and I suspect no one else but the military themselves,” shared Emile Fausto, whose murdered parents Billy and Emelda Fausto were both leaders of the Farmworkers Association BABICAFA, working to implement genuine land reform in the Buenavista municipality of Negros Occidental. Both of Fausto’s parents and two young brothers, Ben Fausto (15) and Ravin Fausto (12), were murdered together in June 2023 after facing years of red-tagging and harassment by the 94th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). 

In regards to armed combatants and execution of hors de combat, the ruling noted that the GRP military repeatedly operates in violation of Geneva convention rules of war, citing testimony on the recent case of New People’s Army (NPA) combatant Hannah Cesista. Cecista, along with four other NPA combatants, surrendered to the 47th Infantry Battalion in order to protect civilian children nearby, and were subsequently executed without trial. Cesista was forced to roll in mud before being shot at point-blank range, while her counterparts were stripped and executed in front of Bohol province villagers. 

“These are blatant violations of the most fundamental rules of war… apart from being war crimes, these acts of the AFP expose an utter disdain for the principles of humanity and deserve the utmost condemnation from this tribunal,” noted juror Julen Arzuaga Gumuzio, member of Basque parliament and the European Association of Democratic Lawyers. 

“To the defendants, this verdict is a solemn reminder that the international community is watching you and will hold accountable those who perpetrate or condone human rights abuses and violations of international laws governing the rules of war,” asserted Laveleye in a statement on the verdict. 

“We urge you to listen to the voices of your people, to uphold the principles of justice and human rights, and to take immediate steps to address the grievances and abuses that have been brought to light,” Leveleye concluded.###