Duterte's former ICC accuser dances around case's veracity

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2020 09:25 AM | Updated as of Jan 17 2020 09:47 AM

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MANILA — The case against President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) was politically motivated, the lawyer who filed it said Friday, despite admitting that he "cannot say what is true" or not in the allegations.

Lawyer Jude Sabio said the communication he filed in 2017 was "nothing else but political propaganda" of former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Senator Leila De Lima and the Liberal Party-led opposition.

"Events have shown, especially the Bikoy scandal that... they are not interested in justice," he told ANC.

Opposition figures last year were accused of paying a certain Peter Joemel Advincula to appear as the hooded figure "Bikoy" in viral videos that linked President Rodrigo Duterte's family to illegal drugs. Trillanes and the LP denied any hand in the clips.

Sabio said it was also Trillanes who asked him to file the ICC complaint, which relied heavily on the testimonies of whistleblowers Edgar Matobato and Arturo Lascañas, who accused Duterte of leading a death squad when he was still mayor of Davao City.

Pressed on whether or not the ICC allegations were true, Sabio answered: "I'm going back to what I said, the issue here is interest of justice."

"Since the opposition is shown to have acted not in the interest of justice in the Bikoy controversy, then in the ICC they cannot also claim an interest for justice," he said.

Sabio was asked twice more about the veracity of the ICC complaint, regardless of whether or not it was used for political propaganda.

Larry Gadon, a staunch supporter of the Duterte administration who facilitated Sabio's ICC withdrawal, chimed in saying: "The implication is they are not true because if it's not already in the interest of justice then, they are not true."

Sabio, however, said: "I cannot say what is true in regards to their testimony."

"I'm not saying that Matobato and Lascañas lied. I'm only saying that case is no longer in the interest of justice," he added.

BIKOY WAS 'LAST STRAW'

Sabio said Trillanes recruited him to be the lawyer of Advincula, even after he failed the former senator's vetting.

"That in itself was the last straw on this matter... Isn't that deception? Isn't that dishonesty?" he said.

Sabio also denied that he was paid to withdraw the ICC complaint against Duterte.

The ICC Office of the Prosecutor said late Tuesday any communication filed with their office “cannot be withdrawn.”

The Philippines in March 2019 quit the ICC, though the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal pledged to pursue its examination of alleged illegal killings in Duterte's drug war.