PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will never cooperate with any investigation that may be launched by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the alleged “extra-judicial killings” committed by the police force as a result of the government’s war on drugs since 2016, Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque told a news briefing at Camp Crame on Tuesday.
“Hinding-hindi tayo magko-cooperate dahil hindi na tayo miyembro ng ICC. Hinding-hindi magko-cooperate ang Presidente hanggang matapos ng kanyang termino sa June 30, 2022,” Roque told newsmen.
The Palace official told the Journal Group that the “timing of the release” of the statement of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is “highly suspicious ” since it comes in the wake of the pronouncement by known Duterte critic, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, that he will seek the presidency in 2022.
Describing the ICC prosecutor’s statement as “legally erroneous and politically motivated,” Roque stressed that the ICC prosecutor has no jurisdiction over the government.
“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.
The official added that the investigation “is not pursuant or in aid of substantial justice.”
He described the charges as purely motivated by politics since the “brains” behind the case, former Sen. Trillanes, had already signified his intention to run for a higher position in 2022 election.
“Sayang ang panahon, ang resources ng hukuman dahil hearsay ang evidence. At ang nagfile ng kaso ay tatakbong president o vice-president,” he said.
He took a swipe at Bensouda for claiming that there is a slow pace of justice in our country. Roque said that it was in 2018 when Trillanes filed the charges against President Duterte before the ICC and Bensouda took three years before forwarding the case to the ICC chamber for the conduct of a preliminary investigation.
Roque said Bensouda herself is being accused of filing cases only against her fellow Africans.
The official expressed disbelief over the accusation that President Duterte has committed a crime against humanity as a result of his war on drugs.
“I will ask the PNP when you discharge your obligation under the so-called war on drugs, did you target civilians? Did you kill civilians because they are civilians. Obviously you did not,” he said.
Roque said policemen also had the full right to defend themselves and use reasonable force however when they are confronted with armed and dangerous criminals.
Roque said that unlike in other impoverished countries around the world, the Philippines have ‘independent, impartial and competent courts’ which hear all sides and follow the thing called ‘due process.’
He cited the case of the Caloocan City policemen who were arrested, dismissed from the force and convicted by the court for their role in the killing of the young Kian delos Santos on August 16, 2017.
Besides, he said the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police headed by General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar are already fully cooperating with each other in investigating around 6,000 police anti-criminality operations in which suspects or officers were killed.
“Hindi po natin kailangan na mga dayuhan ang mag-imbestiga sa ating bayan,” he said.
“I am confident that the pre-trial chamber will reject the investigation,” he added.
Roque said that it appears that the pieces of evidence regarding the so-called ‘EJKs’ were given by the Left to the ICC. However, he said that the ICC must look at the crimes committed by the New People’s Army, the latest of which were the killing of an FEU and national football player and his cousin in Masbate City.
Sec. Roque also explained that in the first place, when the Philippines became a member of the ICC, it did not allow the ICC to ‘substitute’ for Philippine prosecutors and judges.
“Maraming kasong nakabimbin sa hukuman, I am sorry for the outburst. I have no prepared statement here. Insulto po kasi sa ating mga Pilipino, mako-compare tayo sa countries like Darfour, mga lugar na talagang walang gumagalang gobyerno. How dare you say that the Philippine system is not working,” he lashed at Bensouda.
Roque said the charges were only fabricated by groups against the Duterte administration, specifically the Communist Party of the Philippines chaired by self-exiled Jose Ma. Sison and the opposition including Trillanes.
Roque argued that the ICC cannot probe the killings under the Duterte administration’s drug war because the Rome Statute stands on the principle of complementarity, which means the ICC can only intervene if the country’s domestic legal system is not working.
“Under this principle, ICC will not exercise jurisdiction unless the state is unable and unwilling to prosecute. Unable means a non-functioning court, no police, a failed state. As for unwillingness, there must be legislation prescribing impunity on individuals. Wala pong gumaganang batas na ganun sa Pilipinas,” he said.
REVIEW OF DRUG CASES NOT AFFECTED — DOJ
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice said Bensouda’s request for an authority to investigate the government’s war on drugs will not affect the Justice Department’s ongoing review on deaths of suspected drug pushers.
“As far as the DOJ is concerned, such development has absolutely no effect on the ongoing work of the review panel on drug deaths, as well as on the Philippines-UN joint program on technical cooperation on human rights,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
PNP CHIEF DEFENDS DUTERTE
Philippine National Police chief General Guillermo Lorenzo T .Eleazar defended the President and the police force from the ICC accusations.
“Walang katotohanan yan. Malinaw ang sinasabi ng Pangulo, laging sinasabi na gawin ang tama pero proteksiyunan natin ang sarili, Do what is right and what is legal. Mahal niya ang kapulisan at kasundaluhan pero pag umabuso, ang sabi niya ay kasuhan,” Gen. Eleazar said.
The top cop said that the PNP is willing to furnish the DOJ all the documents it need in the investigation of the so-called ‘EJKs.’ “In fact with the guidance of SILG, I talked with the Secretary of Justice,me mga cases na 53 with known lapses, binigay namin pero yung other unresolved cases ay due to appeals. Wala kaming tinatago at ipapakita namin sa DOJ all these documents. Pati yung naimbestigahan ng IAS, all cases which led in the death of suspects and even policemen can be reviewed,” Gen. Eleazar said.
With Hector Lawas