MANILA - The Philippine lawyer who filed a case against President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court said on Sunday that it would be better if Duterte was overthrown so he could face the issues against him before the tribunal.
In interview with ANC's Dateline Philippines, Atty. Jude Sabio again denied he was part of an attempt to destabilize the government, but also said that he would like to see Duterte charged.
"Walang intensyon dito na i-overthrow si President Duterte, but if ever he will have to be overthrown, mas maganda 'yun para mas madala siya sa Hague," Sabio said, referring to the ICC's headquarters.
(There is no intention to overthrow Pres. Duterte, but if ever he will have to be overthrown, that would be better so that he can be taken to The Hague.)
Sabio also said that if Duterte was removed from office, the former Davao City mayor had no one to blame but himself.
"Ngayon kung may gulong mangyari, kung may destabilization man o ma-overthrow man si Pangulong Duterte, kasalanan ni Pangulong Duterte 'yan dahil siya mismo ang may pakana, ang mastermind ng sistema ng death squad killings mula pa noong Davao."
(Now if there's trouble, if there's destabilization or if Pres. Duterte is overthrown, that is his own fault because he was the mastermind of the system of death squad killings stretching from his term as Davao City mayor.)
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda launched a "preliminary examination" after receiving Sabio's petition, which alleges around 8,000 extrajudicial killings.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said a preliminary examination is different from an investigation.
"Ito po ay hindi pa imbestigasyon, ito po ay preliminary examination pa lamang. At base po sa karanasan ng ibang bansa, sa Colombia 13 years na po ay hindi pa rin natatapos ang preliminary examination," Roque told DZMM radio Sunday.
(This is not an investigation, this is a preliminary examination. And based on the experience of other countries, in Colombia, the preliminary examination has yet to be finished after 13 years.)
This as Sabio insisted that the case against Duterte was strong and he expects that the ICC will issue a warrant for the President's arrest within the year.
Sabio also countered Duterte's claim that he is beyond the ICC's jurisdiction.
"I beg to disagree with the President because the Philippines is a state party to the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court," he said.
"Under the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties, the Philippines is bound by its treaty obligations, so we cannot escape from our obligations under the Rome Statute," Sabio continued.
Sabio represents Edgar Matobato, a confessed hitman who earlier testified in the Senate that he was part of a hit squad in Davao City that operated on Duterte's orders.
Duterte has repeatedly denied sanctioning summary executions in his 22-year rule in Davao or under his war on drugs.
The government had said the 4,000 drug suspects killed in police operations had put up violent resistance, prompting officers to defend themselves. Human rights groups, however, say the police figures are understated and does not include killings by alleged state-sponsored “vigilantes.”