Roque: Duterte would rather die than face ICC drug war probeBy LLANESCA T. PANTI,GMA News
Malacañang said Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte would prefer to die rather than face the International Criminal Court (ICC) probe on drug war deaths.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque was responding to what the ICC said that its Pre-Trial Chamber 1 has granted then-Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's June 14 request to probe into crimes "allegedly committed in Philippine territory between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the so-called 'war on drugs' campaign."
Also, the ICC said that “the available material indicates, to the required standard, that a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population took place pursuant to or in furtherance of a State policy, within the meaning of Article 7(1) and (2)(a) of the Statute.”
“Wala pong reaksyon si Presidente kasi mula’t mula pa, sinabi na niya na mamamatay muna siya bago siya haharap sa dayuhan na huwes (He has no reaction because he has long maintained that he will rather die than face foreign judges),” Roque said.
“Kung may isasampang kaso, gumagana po ang hukuman sa Pilipinas kaya walang hurisdiksyon ang ICC (If cases should be filed, they should be filed before our courts which are fully functioning and as such, ICC has no jurisdiction),” Roque added.
Roque then said that the Philippines' withdrawal from the Rome Statute establishing ICC in March 2019 will leave ICC prosecutors with nothing since the country is not cooperated with ICC anymore.
“Kung 'di na tayo miyembro at di na tayo required mag-cooperate, paano sila kukuha ng ebidensiya (Given that we are not a member already and not required to cooperate, how can they get evidence?),” Roque said.
“What are they going to do? The police will not cooperate. There will be no autopsy, no forensics expert. Matutulog lang po ang kaso (That case will just gather dust),” he added.
Roque then argued that cooperating with such ICC probe at this point infringes with Philippine sovereignty because courts in the Philippines are functioning well, a position contrary to ICC Chamber’s findings that courts in the country cannot function anymore given that the President previously said he will be take the fall for police officials who will be held liable over drug war deaths.
“When we consented to being a part of the Rome Statute, it is not tantamount to waiving sovereignty. At iyong mga ganiyang salita (those words by the President), that does not prove the elements of the crime. [To say our courts are not functioning]...firstly,that’s erroneous; and secondly, that’s actually a prejudgment,” he said.
“At the level of preliminary investigation, the requirements of complementarity should be satisfied. So even before they conduct the preliminary investigation, they already have a conclusion that our courts are not working,” he added.
Roque also snapped at the calls for the government to release records of drug war deaths which occurred during legitimate anti-drug war operations to the public and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for transparency, saying that sharing such record to the Justice department is enough.
“It is important to share those to Department of Justice (DOJ) because it is the DOJ which has the authority to file cases, not CHR. We don’t care about impression. We care about the fact that the pillars of criminal justice system are working,” he said.
“Why would I care about transparency when we’re ensuring that guilty individuals are investigated, prosecuted, and punished for their acts. That is what is important and is the obligation of the state: to provide an adequate domestic legal remedy to the victims,” he stressed.
In closing, Roque insisted that anti-drug police operations, some of which resulted in deaths are legitimate contrary to the ICC Chamber deeming it as a “widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population [that] took place pursuant to or in furtherance of a state policy.”
“That’s a preliminary assessment without the benefit of preliminary investigation, and should not be given much weight and attention,” Roque added.
Earlier, Malacañang reiterated that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines. —LBG/AOL, GMA News