Palace confident ICC will junk request for drug war probe

Published June 15, 2021, 2:54 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The Philippine government is optimistic the International Criminal Court (ICC) will reject a request to conduct a formal probe into the country’s war on drugs since such petition was “legally erroneous, political motivated.”

President Duterte delivers a public address on June 14, 2021 (Malacañang)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said it would only be a waste of time and resources to start a formal investigation on alleged crimes against humanity in the drug war due to lack of jurisdiction, basis, among other reasons.

He insisted that President Duterte already declared the government would not cooperate with any foreign probe since the ICC no longer has jurisdiction over the Philippines, which has already pulled out from the treaty the established the court.

Any ICC probe, bound by the principle of complementarity, will also be unnecessary since the country’s judicial processes are working, he added.

“Because of complementarity, I am confident that the pre-trial chamber will reject the request for investigation,” Roque said during a televised press briefing Tuesday, June 15.

“Sasayangin lang nila ang panahon, sasayangin lang nila ang resources ng hukuman dahil without cooperation from the Philippine state, hinding-hindi naman makakabuo ng kaso kung hindi base są ebidensya na hearsay at galing mismo sa mga komunista at politikong kalaban ni Presidente (They will just waste the time and resources of the court because without cooperation from the Philippine state, they won’t be able to make a case based on evidence that is hearsay and comes from the communists and the President’s political rivals),” he said.

Outgoing ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked the Hague tribunal to open a formal investigation into President Duterte’s war on drugs that have been marred by allegations of extrajudicial killings and other abuses. Bensouda said a preliminary examination found “reasonable basis to believe that the Crime Against Humanity of murder was committed” in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019.

Roque however argued that Filipinos should be insulted if the foreign court would pursue such probe, insisting that the country’s courts are working. The Rome Statute states that ICC can only act if there is inability or unwillingness of the State party to investigate and prosecute crime offenders.

“How dare you say that the Philippine legal system is not working,” Roque said.

Roque also said any ICC investigation is not pursuant or in aid of substantial justice. He added there was no basis to proceed with the probe since the country was no longer a member of the ICC.

“Sinabi na ni Presidente na hinding-hindi tayog mag-cooperate dahil hinid na tayo miyembro ng ICC (The President has declared we will never cooperate because we are not a member of ICC anymore),” he said.

“This is now a political issue. Hinding-hindi magko-cooperate ang Presidente hanggang tapos ng kaniyang termino sa June 30, 2022 (The President will never cooperate until the end of his term on June 30, 2022),” he said.

Roque assured that any allegations of police abuse in the drug war would be investigated and prosecuted. He said there was no need for foreigners to meddle with the country’s affairs.

 
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