MANILA – Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Tuesday belittled the supplemental complaint of two opposition lawmakers against President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In a statement, Panelo said the supplemental communication by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano only showed that the initial complaint, filed by lawyer Jude Sabio, “was based merely on hearsay and unsubstantiated allegations.”
“Unfortunately for the misguided lawmakers, they cannot hope to cure a complaint which is intrinsically flawed and, worse, was filed before a tribunal that does not even have jurisdiction in the first place,” Panelo added.
Trillanes and Alejano on Monday sent communication to the Hague-based ICC to supplement the one filed in April against the President by Sabio, the lawyer of self-confessed Davao Death Squad hitman Edgar Matobato.
In his communication to the ICC, Sabio accused Duterte of committing crimes against humanity, citing killings in his war on drugs. The administration has several times asserted that there were no state-sanctioned slays of drug suspects.
In filing the supplemental communication, Trillanes and Alejano cited developments related to the government’s war on drugs since Sabio filed his communication on April 24, as well as the dismissal of the impeachment complaint against the President.
In their submission, the two lawmakers, both former soldiers from the Magdalo group, said the dismissal of the impeachment complaint showed that “the State is unwilling to even investigate the extrajudicial killings in the country and, because of the president’s immunity, unable to prosecute President Duterte.”
The ICC, to which the Philippines is a state party, can only act on a case if it is found that the state has shown unwillingness or inability to resolve a matter.
As the state was unwilling and unable to prosecute Duterte, Alejano said in a statement that “there is still a continuing veil of impunity which enables the carrying out of state-sponsored killings.”
“It is in this regard that we are calling on the ICC to intervene and conduct preliminary examination of the situation in the country in order to prevent further extra-judicial killings and render justice in the country," Alejano added.
The two lawmakers are among the President's fiercest critics.