Palace asks ICC: Stop probe into Duterte drug war

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2021 02:21 PM | Updated as of Mar 18 2021 03:22 PM

Palace asks ICC: Stop probe into Duterte drug war 1
President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) prior to his talk to the people at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on March 15, 2021. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo

MANILA — Malacañang on Thursday asked the International Criminal Court to drop its inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity under President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war after the Philippine Supreme Court junked appeals against his move to withdraw the Philippines from the tribunal. 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously scrapped the petitions challenging Duterte's withdrawal from the ICC, for being "moot and academic." 

This decision recognizes that Duterte is the chief architect of foreign policy, said his spokesman Harry Roque. 

"Dahil dito nanawagan kami sa ICC na huwag nang magsayang ng panahon sa kanilang mga imbestigasyon dahil hindi kinikilala ng Pilipinas ang hurisdiksyon ng ICC," he said in a press briefing.

"Patunay rin ito na gumagana ang ating mga prosesong legal kaya tama lamang na tigilan na ang pakikialam ng ICC sa ating domestic affairs," he added. 

(Because of this, we ask the ICC to refrain from wasting time with their investigation because the Philippines does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC. This is also proof that our legal processes work so it is only right for ICC to stop its interference with our domestic affairs.)

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in December found "reasonable basis" to believe that Duterte's war on drugs has spawned crimes against humanity.

In turn, Roque and Duterte's chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo accused the prosecutor of politicking

Bensouda's office opened in February 2018 a preliminary probe into the slay of thousands of suspected drug users and peddlers in the Philippines, including those killed for allegedly resisting arrest or were allegedly gunned down by law enforcers disguised as vigilantes.
 
She said she found "reasonable basis to believe" that crimes against humanity such as murder, torture and the infliction of serious physical injury and mental harm were committed under the drug war from July 2016 to mid-March 2019. 

She said the COVID-19 pandemic and "capacity constraints" delayed her office's goal to conclude its preliminary examination of Duterte's drug war. 

Duterte and his aides have repeatedly denied rights violations in the drug war, saying drug suspects were killed because they resisted arrest.

He also repeated his accusation that rights defenders are "preoccupied" with the life of criminals, his advice for law enforcers to shoot suspects who fight back, and his promise to take responsibility for deaths in operations.

Government data showed about 5,000 have died in anti-drug operations. Various rights groups are saying though that thousands more have been slain in alleged extrajudicial killings.

Last month, Justice Secretary Menardo Gueverra told the Human Rights Council that "in more than half of the records reviewed, the law enforcement agents involved failed to follow standard protocols pertaining to coordination with other agencies and the processing of the crime scene." 

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