THERE is no need for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate President Rodrigo R. Duterte because even the United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on extra-legal killings had already cleared him over ‘Davao Death Squad’ claims, saying the police are to blame,” Presidential Spokesperson Herminio Harry L. Roque, Jr. said.
“Our domestic courts are able and willing to prosecute these crimes. The ICC is not a course of first instance. The ICC is only a court of last resort. Moreover, the alleged deaths attributed to the war on drugs is because of lawful police operations and cannot therefore constitute an attack against civilians…,” Mr. Roque said in a press briefing on Friday.
He added: “The President, when I consulted him on this matter, said that even the former UN Special Rapporteur on extra-legal killings Philip Alston in his report, if you remember, cleared him of any possible criminal liability when the Special Rapporteur investigated the workings of the alleged Davao Death Squad.”
“The most that Special Rapporteur Philip Alston recommended then was criminal charge for simple negligence against the police,” the spokesman further said.
According to Mr. Roque, Mr. Duterte said that “if the conclusion of the UN Special Rapporteur was that the police was only liable for simple negligence, he is very confident that the prosecutor therefore will not go beyond a preliminary examination, and he is confident that at most, what could be the finding would be similar to the finding of Philip Alston-that sometimes, not all the time, police appear to be negligent in conducting the war against drugs.”
The spokesman announced last Thursday, Feb.8, that the ICC prosecutors have opened a “preliminary examination” into a complaint filed by the camp of opposition senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV alleging that Mr. Duterte has committed “crimes against humanity” in his war on drugs.
“The prosecutor announced this in a video message that the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has in fact opened [a] preliminary examination of the situation in the Philippines and Venezuela,” Mr. Roque said.
“While the position of the President is that, he welcomes this as an opportunity to clear his name from the accusation that he’s guilty of extra-legal killings, the President will also insist on the basis of our consent to become a member of the International Criminal Court and that is the principle of complementarity.” — Arjay L. Balinbin