President Rodrigo Duterte said he knew in advance that the International Criminal Court (ICC) was going to do an initial review of the allegations that he committed a crime against humanity in connection with his war on drugs.
In a speech, Duterte admitted that he learned of the ICC's action based on recordings provided by a foreign country of a phone conversation between New York-based philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis and another person
“I was already listening to the tapes of their conversation. It was provided by me by another country but the conversation was somewhere Philippines and New York. Loida [Nicolas] was one of them. And there was this, ‘See you in the headquarters when the case is filed,’” Duterte said.
“I knew in advance. Problem is this case, for the looks of it, it’s old politics,” he added.
Asked to clarify the President’s statements, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday said he could not “annotate” what Duterte has said.
“Let’s take the President’s statement on its face value,” Roque said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
Roque added he could not disclose the foreign government providing information to the President.
Lewis, the Filipino widow of US businessman Reginald Lewis, said there was "absolutely no truth to the story given to you by 'another country', that I was in any way involved in the International Criminal Court's (ICC) decision to investigate the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines."
"Any supposed transcript of a recent phone conversation is bogus. 'See you at the headquarters when the case is filed' is laughable, because US Pinoys for Good Governance does not even have a headquarters! We use the internet for communications and teleconference," Lewis said in a Facebook post.
"The only time I may have said that was in 2013, when the USPGG organized a rally in front of the U.N. Headquarters to show our support for the Philippine delegation who filed the case against China — which the Philippines won on July 12, 2016," she added.
Lewis, nonetheless, indicated her opposition to the killings blamed on Duterte's war on drugs.
"However, I do believe that murder without due process of our fellow Filipinos on suspicion of drug dealing is reprehensible, and goes against the laws of both God and man," Lewis said.
The ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) said last week that it would begin its preliminary examination on the extrajudicial killings associated with the government’s intensified anti-illegal drugs campaign, whick kicked off on July 1, 2016.
Malacañang said that a preliminary examination was not similar to a formal preliminary investigation, but was merely a procedure conducted by the ICC to determine whether the case falls under its jurisdiction.
A former professor of international law, Roque said that in order to exercise jurisdiction, the ICC had to establish the admissibility of the case, consider interest of justice, and the principle of complementarity should be implemented.
This means that the ICC can only investigate criminal cases if the domestic courts are unable or unwilling to do so, which Roque said does not apply to the Philippines' situation. —NB, GMA News