Palace: PH won't cooperate in ICC proceedings vs Duterte

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2018 01:59 PM

MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday reiterated that the Philippines would not cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its ongoing proceedings against President Rodrigo Duterte.

The ICC earlier this week said the Philippines' withdrawal from the Rome Statute, which established the international court, would not affect its preliminary examination into crimes allegedly committed in Duterte's drug war.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said while this is the ICC’s position, “I would like to reiterate that the President’s decision was to immediately withdraw."

"I don’t think the ICC can look forward to cooperation from the Philippines as a state party or a soon-to-be former state party," he said. 

Duterte last week announced he was withdrawing the Philippines from the Rome Statute, a United Nations treaty that created the ICC, arguing that it did not take effect in the Philippines because the previous administration had failed to publish it in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

The President said this was in violation of the constitutional right to due process since it meant that the public, including him, was not informed about it.

“What is the due process involved here? Publication. So that you will be put to notice, kayong lahat pulis na may batas. But they never published it. Sila-sila lang ‘yan sa Senate, ‘yung Presidente nagpirma at ipinadala kaagad sa Rome,” the President said Wednesday in a speech during the 39th commencement exercises of the Philippine National Police Academy’s Maragtas Class of 2018.

“I never read the law. I was a mayor then. Wala akong nabasa. I was not put on notice. It is a legal excuse? Yes. Eh bakit, di ko gamitin? Napakabobo ko namang abogado,” said the President, who was a long-time Davao City mayor. 

Duterte earlier said the Philippines was withdrawing from the ICC due to what he called "outrageous" attacks by United Nations officials and alleged violations of due process by the ICC.

This after the ICC said it would start a preliminary examination on a complaint against him and other officials over alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

The ICC's preliminary examination was premature, he added, and "effectively created the impression that I am to be charged ... for serious crimes falling under its jurisdiction."

In his speech Wednesday, Duterte also said the supposed “extrajudicial killings” being attributed to the war on drugs are not even included in the list of acts that the ICC could prosecute.

The administration has many times denied involvement in summary killings of drug suspects. Officials have said some 4,000 killed in police anti-drug operations had violently resisted arrest, prompting officers to shoot. 

Debunking Duterte’s arguments, the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), in its letter to the President, noted that the Philippines had made it known that it understood very well what it would entail to become a state party to the statute.

It noted that the Philippines enacted Republic Act 9851 in December 2009, which laid down the obligations of the Philippine government to penalize crimes similarly covered by the Rome Statute. This law was enacted prior to the Philippines' ratification of the statute.

The ICJ also said facts such as the Philippines’ reaffirmation of its support for the Rome Statute as recently as Dec. 7, 2017 and its active campaign to have Filipino Raul Pangalangan elected as ICC judge “upend the claim that the Philippines was fraudulently induced to become a State Party to the Rome Statute.”

The ICJ, in its letter to the President expressing concern about the withdrawal, also said “there is no doubt that extrajudicial killings can be considered crimes against humanity.”

“All international instruments, since the Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, have included murder in the list of acts that constitute crimes against humanity when they are committed in a massive or systematic practice or as part of a widespread or systematic attack,” the ICJ said.

“The UN General Assembly has likewise pointed out that “extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions may under certain circumstances amount to crimes against humanity, international law, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

The Philippines signed the Rome Statute on Dec. 28, 2000 and ratified and endorsed it in August 2011, during the time of Duterte’s predecessor, then President Benigno Aquino III.

The ICC is the first permanent institution having power to exercise jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression, and is seen to help end impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes.