FORMER president Rodrigo Duterte has shrugged off the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to proceed with the investigation of his bloody campaign against drugs, his former spokesman said Friday.
In a press statement on his Facebook page, Harry Roque said Duterte “reiterates his position that he would never allow foreigners to sit in judgment of him as long as Philippine courts are willing and able to do so.”
Duterte maintains that submitting himself to the legal jurisdiction of any foreign body “is an insult to the competence and impartiality of our functioning criminal justice system,” Roque said.
The former spokesman said he believes that the ICC probe is a waste of time and resources and called on the court to “focus instead on the war crimes and crimes against humanity that are actually happening in places like Ukraine and some African countries.”
A former human rights lawyer, Roque twice served as presidential spokesman, from 2017 to 2018, and again from 2020 to 2021, before running for the Senate in last year’s elections.
International criminal law experts advised the government to cooperate with the ICC investigation in order to pursue technical cooperation with the United Nations.
“Let the investigators come here. In the end, because of the process that is also happening with the technical cooperation with the United Nations, the Philippines could actually catch up and during then we assume it will go initial trial stage,” said Ray Santiago, co-chairman of the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court, in an interview on ANC on Friday.
Ruben Carranza, senior expert for the International Center for Transitional Justice and co-chairman of the Philippine Coalition for the ICC, said the government had challenged the ICC’s probe by its ability to carry out the investigation and willingness to carry out the investigation.
Carranza said that while the government has the capability to investigate crimes, it is unwilling to probe the drug war.
The government must prove to the ICC that the drug war did not reach the scale of what Carranza described as a widespread systematic attack against a community.
“You can’t just say it’s not true. You have to say why it was not true. What is interesting made by the argument by the Philippines is that its so-called investigations, including the Department of Justice, mirrors what the ICC is supposed to be doing and that is another example of simply using language without substance,” he said.
The government must also justify its deferral on drug war cases.
Former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares on Friday welcomed the ICC decision to resume its investigation on alleged human rights violations committed during the Duterte administration.
“This is a positive development as victims of the fake drug war of the Duterte administration can still get justice even outside Philippine courts. This is good news because I am dismayed and deeply troubled by the lack of justice for the families of victims of extrajudicial killings like the case of Manny Asuncion here in our country,” Colmenares said.
“At least Duterte and his subordinates cannot claim that they were not accorded due process,” he said.
Colmenares, who serves as counsel for the families of victims of extrajudicial killings in the ICC case, said the Department of Justice dismissed a criminal case against 17 police officers involved in the death of labor leader and activist Emmanuel “Manny” Asuncion.
“That is why what President Duterte said to victims that they should file cases here in the Philippines instead of the ICC was a self-serving lie. This is the type of injustice that we want to prevent so we demand that President [Ferdinand “Bongbong”] Marcos Jr. return to the ICC,” he added.
Marcos “should also call on the ICC to initiate investigations into the police and military officials involved in these heinous crimes. We will use this latest dismissal to bolster our argument before the ICC that human rights violators remain unaccountable under the Marcos-Duterte administration,” Colmenares said.
He said Marcos should not imitate the actions of Duterte and instead respect human rights and due process.
“Such a move will not only be for the interest of justice but would also show the international community that the Philippines does not tolerate human rights abuses and impunity,” he said.
Colmenares noted that the majority of the countries Marcos visited are members of the ICC.
“It is imperative, therefore, for the Philippine government to return to the ICC to serve justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses and to show the international community that it is trying to correct the abuses of the past administrations, otherwise impunity will continue to escalate in the Philippines, ” he said.