ICC case can't trigger Duterte ouster: Fariñas

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 14 2017 03:43 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte waits for the Southeast Asian leaders to arrive during the opening ceremony of the ASEAN summit in Manila, April 29, 2017. Erik De Castro, Reuters

MANILA -- A complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC) cannot be used to remove him from office, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said Sunday.

"The ICC, or any other court or tribunal here or elsewhere, has no business or jurisdiction in the removal in office of President Duterte or any impeachable officer as such is the sole power of the Congress of the Philippines," Fariñas said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.

Fariñas' statement came a day before the House Justice Committee begins its deliberation on the impeachment complaint against the President over killings links linked to his war on drugs and alleged corruption.

The impeachment complaint, filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, is seen by its advocates as the last hope of holding the President accountable before the ICC can be asked to assume jurisdiction over Duterte.

The President is immune from lawsuits while in office, but he can be impeached.

Farinas explained that the ICC may prosecute government officials and heads of state over the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

The ICC is intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore only exercise its jurisdiction when certain conditions are met, such as when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute officials or when the United Nations Security Council or individual states refer investigations to the Court.

"Indubitably, no international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes have been committed by President Duterte. The conditions stated above do not exist in the case of President Duterte as there has been no criminal case filed against him," Fariñas said.

Over 2,900 people have been killed in presumed legitimate police operations since Duterte took office last summer.

The President has persistently denied he is involved with any death squad and said that his orders to kill drug suspects come with the caveat that police should operate within the bounds of the law.

Duterte is the first Philippine president to face a complaint before the international tribunal.