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‘Int’l Criminal Court can’t probe Duterte after Philippines’ pullout’

/ 12:49 PM March 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – After the Philippines’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque  on Monday said the ICC has lost its jurisdiction over the country and can no longer investigate President Rodrigo Duterte’s supposed crimes against humanity.

“With the country’s withdrawal from the ICC, the two communications filed against the President are deemed to have been dismissed,” Roque said in his speech during the kick-off ceremony of the 7th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

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“In the case of Burundi, the prosecutor decided to commence preliminary investigation a day before effectivity of Burundi’s withdrawal from the Rome Statue of the ICC. Our withdrawal took effect yesterday (Sunday) and the ICC has lost all its jurisdiction to proceed to a preliminary investigation against the Philippines,” he added.

The ICC has launched in February last year a “preliminary examination” on Duterte’s supposed crimes against humanity in connection with his  bloody  war on drugs.

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A month later, Duterte withdrew the Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute, citing “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration.

Aside from the Philippines, four other countries have so far pulled out of the ICC: Russia, Gambia, South Africa and Burundi.

Speaking to reporters after the event, Roque, who was among those who lobbied the Philippines’ membership in the ICC, also stressed that the tribunal was not meant to be a “court of first instance” as it was only mandated to act in case of the failure of the justice system in the country.

If Duterte indeed committed crimes, Roque said that there are functioning local courts available to investigate the complaint, citing the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Kung merong nalabag na mga batas ang Presidente, dapat dito sa mga korte natin sinasampa. Sa Ombudsman. Ang Ombudsman naman may kapangyarihan na mag-imbestiga, magrecommend ng impeachment at pagkatapos ng termino sampahan siya ng korte,” Roque pointed out.

“Hindi dapat nagpupunta ng International Criminal Court na para bang court of first instance ang ICC. Dahil ang ating pagsapi naman sa ICC ay naka-angkla doon sa prinsipyo na hindi gagalaw ang ICC hangga’t hindi gumagalaw ang mga lokal na hukuman natin,” he added.

Malacañang has earlier said that it will not cooperate with the ICC should it decided to pursue a preliminary investigation.” / gsg

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READ: Gov’t won’t cooperate if ICC starts probe despite PH’s pullout — Palace

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