Duterte administrator, insensitive to ICC investigation, will not cooperate – Palace

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Alexis Romero – Philstar.com

September 16, 2021 | 10:23

Manila, Philippines (Update 2, 6:31 p.m.) – Malacañang will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on illegal drugs and is confident the case will drag on simply because investigators will not find evidence to support them allegations of the complainants.

An ICC pre-trial chamber has approved the conduct of an investigation into the complaints against Duterte, claiming that the crime against humanity of
the murder “appears to have been committed” and that potential cases arising from the investigation appear to be within the jurisdiction of the court.

The chamber said it had found a “reasonable basis” to open an investigation because the specific legal element of the crime against humanity of murder under the Rome Statute – the treaty that formed the ICC – was respected. He cited the killings that took place in various parts of the country between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019 as part of the war on drugs and the deaths in the Davao region between November 1, 2011 and June 30. 2016.

According to the chamber, the available documents indicate that “a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population has taken place in application or in favor of a state policy”.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte was unimpressed with the chamber’s decision and insisted the ICC had no jurisdiction over the war on drugs.

“The president has no reaction because from the start he said he would die first before facing foreign judges,” Roque said during a press briefing on Thursday.

“If there are any complaints, they should be brought to the Philippines because the courts are working. The ICC does not have jurisdiction and it can only act on cases if the courts are not functioning or if they do not want to have jurisdiction over offenses punishable not only by the Rome Statute but also by the laws of the Philippines ” , he added.

Chief Presidential Legal Adviser Salvador Panelo said the ICC had never had jurisdiction over the Philippines, echoing the claim that the treaty did not enter into force because it did not been published in the Official Journal.

“We have repeatedly stressed that the Rome Statute, being criminal in nature, does not meet the publication requirement which offers due process to those it seeks to affect. It is as if the said instrument were not never entered into force in the country, ”Panelo said. said in a statement.

“Therefore, the development that a pre-trial chamber of the ICC has authorized an investigation into alleged crimes committed in our territory does not disturb or disturb the president and his administration,” he added.

Sovereignty

Roque claimed that participation in the ICC investigation would be “a violation of our sovereignty and our jurisdiction.”

“Our consent to be a member did not mean that we were giving up our sovereignty and jurisdiction. Sovereignty is very important. Jurisdiction is an aspect of sovereignty and it is about hearing cases and working out. laws, ”he said.

“We did not give up our sovereignty when we became a member of the ICC because we said we would agree with ICC jurisdiction if the local courts did not work.

The Philippines ratified the Rome Statute in 2011, but Duterte withdrew the ratification seven years later after the ICC announced it would conduct a preliminary review of its narcotics crackdown. The country’s withdrawal from status took effect in March 2019.

Critics of the controversial campaign, which has killed more than 6,000 drug suspects, say it has encouraged human rights violations, but officials deny this. The pre-trial chamber’s decision to allow the investigation followed a request by former ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for permission to investigate the drug campaign. Officials claimed that Bensouda’s conclusion about the drug was based only on “hearsay.”

“How will they find evidence? “

Roque said that in the ICC system, prosecutors are the ones who gather evidence that would prove the complainants’ claims. He said prosecutors are unlikely to find evidence if authorities do not cooperate with their investigation.

“The problem is, if we are no longer members (of the ICC) and there is no obligation to cooperate, how are they going to find evidence? When investigating a murder, you need a police report. How are they going to do it if the police don’t cooperate or provide the police report? The people who carried out the autopsy will not cooperate as well, ”said the spokesperson for the Palace.

“So, ang aking prediksyon po, matutulog lang po iyang kasong iyan dahil in the absence of cooperation, lalung-lalo na sa kapulisan eh wala po talagang ebidensiya na makakalap (My prediction is the case will languish because in the absence cooperation, especially from the police, no evidence will be collected) “, he added.

Roque said an ICC pre-trial chamber previously said the prosecutor should not continue the investigation if the parties involved do not cooperate, as this will not lead to a successful prosecution. He noted that an appeals court overturned the decision so that it would now be up to the prosecutor to decide whether an investigation should be conducted.

“But what I’m saying is I believe the decision of the pre-trial chamber is correct. If you are an expert in criminal prosecution and litigation, if you don’t have evidence, there will be no If there is no cooperation, there is no case because you cannot present evidence in court, “he added.

When asked to respond to the ICC pre-trial chamber statement that Philippine authorities failed to take meaningful steps to investigate or prosecute the murders, Roque said delays in resolving cases did not are not unique to the Philippines.

“The delay is a problem not only in the Philippines but also at the ICC. Did you know that the preliminary examination against England into the alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan took ten years? said Roque.

“So if the defendants are from developed countries that are white, the decision would take ten years and the decision is not to continue the preliminary investigation. But if they are from undeveloped countries like the Philippines, the resolution is fast, ”he added. .

“Political apparatus”

Panelo asserted that the timing of the ICC ruling revealed that the court is “determined to pursue a case against our government officials in violation of our Constitution and in violation of the Rome Statute that created it”.

“It also reveals that the ICC is being used as a political and propaganda apparatus by the usual suspects who will do anything to dethrone the president from his seat. No wonder the leading and powerful countries of the world have not joined or have joined. withdrawn their membership, ”said Duterte’s chief legal advisor.

Panelo also suspects that the development is linked to the upcoming elections. Duterte has announced he will run for vice president next year.

“While we expect detractors of the president to use more theater as election season approaches, this blatant and brazen interference and aggression against our sovereignty as an independent country by the ICC is reprehensible,” Panelo said.

“We stress that we are able and willing to prosecute those who abuse their power and commit crimes against citizens if only genuine complainants come to the relevant authorities instead of personalities who will use their fate for political ambitions,” a- he added.


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