Roque shoots down filing of Duterte case before ICC

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 15 2017 04:41 PM

"Dream on."

This was Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque's message to those who want to haul President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"Hindi nga [pwede], because of complimentary and lack of jurisdiction…managinip sila. The ICC was established by the most conservative countries on earth who all have presidents who are immune from suit,” he said.

It is clear, Roque said, that the ICC is the “court of last resort,” and that there is no evidence proving Duterte ordered kills to be carried out by the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS). 

The ICC will only exercise jurisdiction “if local courts are unwilling or unable to do so.” Parties have to show that a case filed in the Philippines did not succeed before it can go to the ICC, he said.

Roque also stressed that allegations made by alleged hitmen Edgar Matobato and Arturo Lascanas may be out of the ICC's jurisdiction, because the Philippines ratified the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) in August 2011, and so the court can only handle cases after the date.

"Iyong mga sinasabi ni Matobato at Lascanas happened when Digong was mayor, so hindi lahat yun mga nangyari before 2011. Hindi pwede dalhin sa ICC ang remedy, mag-file sa Pilipinas, kasi the ICC was never intended to replace domestic courts,” he said.

In a separate statement sent by email, Roque said that a survey of jurisprudence would show that the case to be filed against Duterte is premature, as the president has only been in office for less than a year.

Roque also pointed out that while the ICC has issued a warrant of arrest for a head of state in the past, it was never implemented because other countries did not cooperate. 

Roque urged Vice-President Leni Robredo and those seeking to exact accountability from Duterte for extra-judicial killings in the country to file cases before local courts.

Roque, the only Filipino authorized to practice law before the ICC, said that the ICC was swamped with nuisance lawsuits in the past, with some parties also suing the Pope for crimes against humanity.

"Primarily, to constitute a crime against humanity, it must be shown that there are acts of murder, persecution, or other prohibited acts, committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population,” Roque said.

“Critics would argue that because there have been many incidents of drug-related violence, that a crime against humanity must have been committed."