MANILA - The International Criminal Court (ICC) can serve and apply its verdict to President Rodrigo Duterte whether he is still the Philippine state leader or has already returned to being an ordinary citizen, according to retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
This was Carpio's answer when asked Friday by journalists about the extent of the crimes against humanity case filed against Duterte before the ICC.
“Many heads of state, they were already out of office… it doesn’t matter whether you still hold office or not,” Carpio said, adding an ICC case examination can be long or short.
"Some cases even run for years before finally reaching a verdict."
In April 2017, lawyer Jude Sabio filed a communication with the ICC, alleging that Duterte and other Philippine government officials committed crimes against humanity in instituting extrajudicial killings first in Davao City through the Davao Death Squad, which they allegedly continued on a national scale through the war on drugs.
On Tuesday, however, Sabio announced that he was withdrawing the communication, saying he doesn’t want it used for political purposes.
Carpio belittled the effect of Sabio’s “withdrawal” from the case.
“When you file a communication, that is not really a complaint. That is just a submission of evidence. And it’s up for the prosecutor to use that or not. And if you withdraw that, it doesn’t matter to them,” he said.
Sabio’s succeeding pronouncements also have no effect to the ICC case because there are others who have also submitted a communication to the ICC, he added.
“The office of the prosecutor has the discretion on whether or not to use it…because it’s just an evidence being submitted and you cannot prevent the ICC from using evidence that is out there,” Carpio pointed out.
Malacañang said critics of Duterte were only using the ICC to ruin his reputation. Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said it is high time that the ICC wakes up from its supposed ignorance, claiming Sabio’s case against the President was only part of a "vilification campaign."
"It should realize by now that it is being used by disgruntled and discredited persons to advance their goal of besmirching the reputation of [President Duterte] and achieving their impossible dream of brining down the Duterte presidency," Panelo said.