MANILA – Incoming Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday said it would be up to President Rodrigo Duterte to tap him as counsel in a case filed against the Chief Executive before the International Criminal Court.
Last March, Roque said the ICC does not have jurisdiction over possible criminal charges filed against Duterte for alleged extrajudicial killings.
He made the statement even before Jude Sabio, lawyer of confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, sued the President for crimes against humanity at the international court.
Roque, the the only Philippine lawyer allowed to practice law at the ICC, nonetheless expressed openness to take on yet another role and assist Duterte if ever the latter would need his help.
“Well, nasa Presidente po iyan ‘no. Pero alam ninyo po sa International Criminal Court, mayroon po kaming bar, iyong mga lawyers na kuwalipikadong um-appear ‘no; at ako po iyong tanging Pilipino diyan. So baka po makunsidera ni Presidente na ako ang tumayong abugado niya dahil ako lang iyong Pilipinong naruroon bagama’t pupuwede siyang kumuha ng mga dayuhan,” Roque said in a radio interview.
The case against Duterte before the ICC was filed amid the spate of killings linked to the government’s war on drugs.
The complaint alleges that Duterte and at least 11 senior government officials are liable for murder and calls for an investigation, arrest warrants and a trial.
Roque had said that the ICC is the “court of last resort,” and that there is no evidence that proves Duterte ordered killings to be carried out by the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) during his stint as Davao City mayor.
The lawyer has said 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 added.
ROQUE: I CAN'T SPEAK WITHOUT KNOWING THE TRUTH
Roque, a human rights lawyer prior to becoming a lawmaker and now the President’s incoming spokesperson, again defended his decision to join the Duterte government.
He said he can use his position to bring up human rights issues with Duterte and other government officials, especially those involved in the war on drugs, the administration of justice, and protection of human rights.
“Nais ko nga pong makatulong dito sa problema ng patayan kaya po naisip kong pumasok na sa administrasyon ‘no. Sa Kongreso kasi ‘pag budget lang ang pinakikinggan ng pulis ‘no. ‘Pagtapos na ang budget kakalimutan ka na rin,” he said.
“Pero dahil ako ay magiging tagapagsalita, eh siguro naman kapag tinanong ako ng patayan may karapatan akong tawagan si General Bato at sabihing, ‘Ano bang katotohanan dito ‘no,’ dahil hindi naman ako pupuwedeng magsalita ng hindi ko alam ang katotohanan.”