Duterte can’t bully nations into quitting ICC, says complainant
President Duterte has no moral ascendancy to call on governments to abandon the Rome Statute because the international community regards him as a “killer,” the lawyer who asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the Philippine leader for possible crimes against humanity said on Monday.
“He does not have [the] moral upper hand to call on other countries to do what he had done,” lawyer Jude Sabio said.
Speaking to graduating cadets of the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City on Sunday, Mr. Duterte urged governments to withdraw from the Rome Statute, which he described as “bullshit.”
The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC, which has opened a preliminary examination of Sabio’s complaint against Mr. Duterte.
The examination angered Mr. Duterte, who announced last week that he was pulling the Philippines out of the Rome Statute, which he said had no effect in the Philippines because it was never published in the government’s Official Gazette.
Sabio, who filed the complaint in April last year, is the lawyer for confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) hit man Edgar Matobato, who claimed Mr. Duterte formed the DDS when he was mayor of Davao City.
Matobato also claimed that the thousands of deaths in Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs bore the signature of the DDS, which targeted petty criminals in Davao.
More than 4,000 poor users and pushers have been killed by police since Mr. Duterte launched his drug war in June 2016.
Thousands more have been killed by unknown assailants in DDS-style attacks.
On Monday, Sabio told the Inquirer by phone that Mr. Duterte could not embarrass and bully the ICC into submission.
Morever, he said, the nations that ratified the Rome Statute had all gone through bloody episodes in their history and had seen gross human rights violations.
These states have vowed to protect their citizens against authoritarian leaders and fight impunity by supporting the treaty and the ICC, Sabio said.
Cambodia is the only other Southeast Asian country to ratify the Rome Statute, and Sabio said the nation was still traumatized by crimes of the Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot.
“Mr. Duterte has a sullied reputation worldwide. The international community looks at him as a killer. Who will follow him? And who is Mr. Duterte to them?” Sabio said.
In a separate interview, former Commission on Human Rights Chair Etta Rosales echoed Sabio’s statement, saying Mr. Duterte lacked credibility in the international community.
“Mr. Duterte’s reputation in the way he has insulted special rapporteur Agnes Callamard and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein does not give him much credibility in the international community,” Rosales said.
Rosales was one of the leaders of the campaign for the ratification of the Rome Statute by the Philippines more than a decade ago. —Nikko Dizon
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