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Lawyer Jude Sabio withdraws one of ICC cases vs. Duterte

One of the personalities who sued President Rodrigo Duterte for crimes against humanity in connection with the war on drugs before the International Criminal Court (ICC) will withdraw his case.

Jude Sabio, who was the lawyer of confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, confirmed on Tuesday that he has written a letter to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda “regarding my intention to withdraw my earlier ICC communication.”

“I am set to submit it personally with the ICC anytime soon,” Sabio said in a message.

In 2017, Sabio asked the ICC prosecutor to bring charges against Duterte and senior officials for “the terrifying and gruesome situation of continuing mass murder in the Philippines.”

Bensouda started a preliminary examination of the allegations in February 2018. Weeks later, Duterte announced the Philippines was withdrawing from the ICC. The exit took effect in March 2019 but the examination continued.

The Supreme Court has yet to resolve a petition questioning the country's withdrawal.

Lawyer Larry Gadon, who claimed he assisted Sabio for “moral support,” was the first to tell reporters that Sabio was withdrawing his communication.

A portion of the letter that Gadon sent to media stated that Sabio is requesting the ICC prosecutor to erase his communication from the record.

“I also fervently request that the legal matter pending with your office in relation to the war on drugs in the Philippines should be set aside and thrashed for being just a part of the political propaganda of Senator [Antonio] Trillanes, Senator [Leila] De Lima, and their LP-led opposition of which I do not wish to be a part,” the letter read.

Gadon said Sabio “did not approve what Trillanes and other LP (Liberal Party) personalities have resorted to aimed at besmirching the honor of the President.”

Sabio subscribed to the affidavit before a notary public in Quezon City on Tuesday, Gadon said, adding that it will be mailed to the ICC.

He sent photos and a video of Sabio signing the document but did not provide a full copy.

Other groups, including the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, have also filed similar communications against Duterte over alleged extrajudicial killings in connection with his administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

Bensouda is conducting a preliminary examination of 52 such communications on the Philippine situation.

Duterte has repeatedly said the ICC has no jurisdiction over him. — RSJ, GMA News