Palace dares ICC to probe NPA atrocities

Published June 15, 2021, 4:52 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government has challenged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to probe the atrocities committed by the communist rebels instead of the “legitimate” anti-drug operations in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte holds a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members before his public address at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on June 14, 2021. (Malacañang)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque argued the rebels have killed people, including a local football player who recently died from a landmine blast in Masbate.

Roque issued the challenge after an outgoing ICC prosecutor called for a full investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity linked to President Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs in the country.

Fatou Bensouda, who will step down from office this week, said the preliminary examination showed there was “a reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder has been committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 July 2016 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the Government of Philippines ‘war on drugs’ campaign.”

Bensouda initiated a preliminary examination into the Duterte administration’s controversial drug war back in 2018. President Duterte, however, pulled out the country’s membership from the treaty that created the ICC after complaining of alleged violation of due process as well as supposed baseless attacks by UN officials.

“Iyang mga patayan ng NPA, iyan ang dapat tinitingnan ng ICC, hindi ang patayan dahil po sa isang valid and legitimate exercise of police powers – the war against drugs (The ICC should look into the killings committed by the NPA, not the killings as a result of the valid and legitimate exercise of police powers — the war against drugs),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Tuesday, June 15.

READ: Palace confident ICC will junk request for drug war probe

Roque claimed that the ICC would only waste time and resources to open a probe on the drug war, citing lack of jurisdiction, possible violation of complementarity rule, among others.

It cannot put the President trial since it has no jurisdiction over him since the country is no longer a member of the ICC, he added.

The Palace official also stressed the country’s judicial processes are functioning so the ICC has no business meddling in the country’s affairs.

“I believe that the decision to move forward into a formal investigation stage is legally erroneous, politically motivated. It is legally erroneous because in the first place, the ICC has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of crimes against humanity as alleged in her information against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” he said.

“Secondly, the case even for purposes of formal investigation is barred by the principle of complementarity. And thirdly, the investigation is not pursuant or in aid of substantial justice,” he added.