ICC request to probe drug war killings ‘legally erroneous’, ‘politically motivated’ — Palace
MANILA, Philippines — The request of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for judicial authorization to probe the crimes against humanity case filed against President Rodrigo Duterte in his controversial war on illegal drugs is “legally erroneous” and “politically motivated,” Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the request is legally erroneous because the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines since the country withdrew from the international court in 2019.
The institution is also barred by the principle of complementarity and the probe is not “pursuant or in aid of substantial justice.”
“I believe the decision to move forward into a formal investigation stage is legally erroneous and politically motivated,” he said in a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
Roque argued that the deaths resulting from drug busts were not instances of crime against humanity since civilians were not targeted but were only “coincidental” or “collateral damage” since the police had to defend themselves.
“Wala pong intention na manarget at pumatay ng civilian dahil sila ay civilian. Kung mayroon mang kamatayan na nangyari ay dahil ito po ay gumamit ng tamang dahas at tamang pwersa ang ating kapulisan,” said.
He also said the ICC only has jurisdiction over a member state — which the Philippines is not — when the country is “unable” or “unwilling to prosecute.”
Roque insisted that the legal and justice system in the country is working, adding that it is independent, impartial, and competent.
“Hindi natin kinakailangan ang mga dayuhan na mag-imbestiga ng patayan dahil sa drug war dahil gumagana ang sistemang legal sa pilipinas, mayroong mga piskal at mayroong hukuman naglilitis at nagparusa na,” the Palace official said.
“Bakit manghihimasok ang ICC na pinakita na natin na kayang kaya ng mga lokal na institusyon na mag imbestiga sa mga krimen na ito,” he added.
Roque said he is confident that the ICC’s pre-trial chamber will reject the request.
Duterte’s mouthpiece also claimed that the ICC request is “politically motivated” since the allegations against the President and his war against drugs are being raised by what he calls the “enemies of the state.”
“Sasayangan lang nila panahon, resources ng hukuman dahil without the Philippine state’s cooperation, hindi makakabuo ng kaso [ang ICC] kung hindi base sa ebidensya at hearsay, galing mismo sa mga komunista at pulitikong kalaban ng Pangulo,” Roque said.
In December 2019, the ICC vowed to continue assessing the complaints against Duterte even though the Philippines had withdrawn from the Rome Statute, which instituted the ICC. The ICC said it still had jurisdiction over the case as it had been filed before the withdrawal.
The complaint was drawn up by the Rise Up for Life and Rights, which is composed of the relatives of drug war victims and other human rights advocates.
In December 2020, the ICC said it had a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity were committed in the conduct of the drug war.
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