Former President Rodrigo Duterte has maintained that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has no jurisdiction in the Philippines, and that he would face complaints against him only before Philippine courts of law.
Duterte’s erstwhile spokesman, lawyer Harry Roque, dared the ICC to “do what you want.”
“You (ICC) will never have jurisdiction over his person and of course, we have always maintained that we will uphold Philippine sovereignty, that he will only face criminal prosecution before a domestic court,” Roque said in an interview with ANC.
Roque was reacting to a decision by the ICC to reopen an inquiry into Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
Roque stressed that his former boss would face complaints against him, should there be any, but only before Philippine courts.
During his watch, Duterte pulled the Philippines out of the Hague-based ICC in
2019, a year after the tribunal began a preliminary probe into the drug war in the Philippines.
The ICC called off its investigation two months later, saying it re-examine
hundreds of death incidents involving suspected drug personalities in the hands of policemen, hitmen, and alleged vigilantes.
Official records would reveal that a total of 6,181 people were killed in Duterte’s “war on drugs” but human rights group claimed that the figure could run up to as many as 30,000.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan asked to restart the inquiry in June 2022, saying the Philippine government under Duterte’s succwessor, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., had not provided enough evidence it was carrying out thorough inquiries.
The ICC argued that although the Philippines has withdrawn from the panel, the decision took effect on March 17, 2019, thus the court “retains jurisdiction with respect to alleged crimes that occurred on the territory of the Philippines while it was a State Party, from 1 November 2011 up to and including 16 March 2019. “
In a statement on Jan. 27, the ICC said its pre-trial chamber “is not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the court’s investigations”.
“The various domestic initiatives and proceedings, assessed collectively, do not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps,” the ICC noted.
However, Duterte’s camp ignored the ICC decision.
“As the President has said, we take offense because there’s standing in judgment against the efficiency and effectiveness of our criminal justice system,” Roque said.