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DOJ: We won’t yield to ICC

Insists on drug war probe on its own, Duterte says ICC can do its worst

The Philippines will not yield to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court after the latter announced it will resume it probe into the deaths associated with the anti-illegal drugs campaign waged by former president Rodrigo Duterte.

The Department of Justice on Saturday said it will conduct its “own” investigation into the war on drugs and will share its findings with the ICC, but only out of comity.

“We want to express to ICC and to the special prosecutor, Mr. Karim Khan, just to give us time to conduct our own investigation, and on the basis of complementarity principle, to respect our sovereignty and judicial system,” DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said.

“It (sharing of findings) is a matter of respect and cooperation, out of comity. This is not submission to their jurisdiction but only out of respect,” Clavano added.

Duterte, for his part, said he does not care if the investigation on his war on drug” will re-open, former Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Saturday.

“He said, ‘I don’t care what they do. As far as I’m concerned they have no jurisdiction. They have to show me their jurisdiction,’” Panelo said, quoting Duterte.

“He said, ‘If I’m guilty of anything, there would be a Filipino judge hearing my case. If I’m convicted, I will serve my term in a Filipino prison. They can do their worst, I don’t care.’”

Clavano said the government’s own “genuine” probe will be thorough, and as such will take time to conclude.

“We are going to conduct a full-blown investigation on the past administration’s war on drugs. It’s not fast. It cannot not be done immediately. We have to collect the right evidence. We have to obtain the witnesses in these cases. And we have to properly screen all the facts of the cases. So, it takes time. You cannot give immediate conviction but that is the goal,” Clavano said.

For his part, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Saturday underscored the need for the Philippines to participate in the ICC probe.

Lagman said the Philippines, as a legitimate member of the world community, must accede to the jurisdiction of the prosecutors of the ICC on the subject.

“The rule of law is not limited to parochial confines. It must conform to the world order,” Lagman said.

“Perforce, the Philippines must submit to the jurisdiction of ICC’s prosecutors over crimes against humanity consequent to the brutal anti-narcotics campaign which were committed prior to the withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute on 17 March 2018,” he added.

The principle of complementarity, which respects the jurisdiction of national courts, according to Lagman, cannot be invoked by the Philippines.

“Because no less than the alleged principal culprit, former President Duterte, has not been investigated by local authorities nor charged in Philippine courts even as other major reported offenders have eluded justice with impunity,” Lagman said.

The Commission on Human Rights also welcomed the ICC’s decision to authorize the reopening of probe into the war on drugs campaign of the past administration.

“In the interest of justice and accountability, the CHR urges the Government of the Philippines to view the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber decision as an opportunity to fulfil President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s earlier commitment in ensuring a ‘high-level of accountability’ for human rights issues and violations during his term,” the CHR said in a statement.

“Let this development be a chance for the Philippines to demonstrate openness and transparency as part of the fraternity of nations that values human rights and the rule of law,” the CHR added.


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