Marcos Jr., Duterte, and Biden were found guilty of war crimes. How should the international community respond?


At the recently concluded International People’s Tribunal on War Crimes in the Philippines (IPT), current and former Presidents of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Rodrigo Duterte, and current President of the United States Joseph Biden, were found guilty of war crimes and violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The initial verdict of the IPT is available at peoplestribunal.net.

Over the course of two days, the panel of expert jurists heard testimony from 15 witnesses covering specific violations of IHL. For all of the witnesses, this meant bravely coming forward before the IPT and recounting harrowing and traumatic experiences of state violence.

IHL applies to both civilians and combatants in the context of an armed conflict, and many witnesses spoke about being targeted by the state as civilians. Environmental justice activist Jonila Castro was one such witness, who described her experience being kidnapped, interrogated, psychologically tortured, and forced to pretend to be a surrendered combatant by members of the Philippine military.

Witnesses also spoke about war crimes against combatants in the ongoing civil war. Eufemia Cullamat, member of Sandugo Alliance, testified about the killing and desecration of remains of her daughter Jevilyn, a combatant with the New People’s Army. She described the horror of seeing photos of Jevilyn’s body on social media, after thousands of others had already seen them.

The perpetrators of these crimes were made clear through the testimonies of legal scholar Marjorie Cohn and resource person Teddy Casiño, among others. The IHL violations that were investigated were the result of the vicious counterinsurgency programs of the Philippine government under Presidents Marcos Jr. and Duterte, with the funding and enabling of the United States Government under President Biden.

While the verdict of the IPT is not legally binding, it was arrived at through a careful application of IHL by experts in the law to a wealth of evidence and testimony. The IPT proved the alleged war crimes of Marcos, Duterte, and Biden to be true. And importantly, the charges were put forward by the Filipino people.

The success of the IPT shows the strength of the people’s movement in the Philippines for justice, self-determination, and peace. It also shows the strength of the international solidarity movement for the Filipino people. The conveners and sponsors of the IPT, including ICHRP, mobilized hundreds of individuals from across the world to support and witness this tremendous display of evidence.

In wake of this critical ruling the international community must mobilize in full force to awaken the world to the crisis in the Philippines. ICHRP calls upon its members, network, and people inspired by this tribunal to mobilize the broadest solidarity support for the Filipino people against the intensive, US backed counterinsurgency campaign that causes deep suffering and oppression in the Philippines.

We must share the guilty verdict of the IPT as widely as possible, and put an end to the policies of our national governments that enable counterinsurgency in the Philippines. Our solidarity is most powerful when we are unified and organized in action. You can build this unity with others by joining a local ICHRP member organization, or forming your own. Reach out to ICHRP at ichrp.net/contact if you aren’t sure how to get involved!



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International Coalition For Human Rights in the Philippines

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines is a global network of organizations, concerned about the human rights situation in the Philippines and committed to campaign for just and lasting peace in the country.

It aims to inform the international community about the grave human rights situation in the Philippines today.

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