ANY charge filed against President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC) won’t prosper, a lawmaker said Thursday.
Rep. Harry Roque of Kabayan party-list, an international law export, made the stance in connection with the plan of the lawyers of self-confessed “Davao Death Squad” hit man Edgar Matobato to charge Duterte before the ICC for ordering mass killings. Matobato has claimed he was involved in brutally killing about 1,000 people when Duterte was still mayor of Davao City.
“While I fully support the fight against impunity, I do not believe that engaging the ICC is appropriate. The ICC was established as a court of last resort. It was intended to complement, not replace, national courts in ending the gravest crimes against the international community. The present threats to have President Duterte indicted in the ICC are not simply political threats against him and his campaign against drugs and criminality – they are also threats that question Philippine sovereignty,” Roque said in a statement.
He cited the principle of complementarity in Articles 1 and 17 of the Rome Statute, which provides that the ICC will only exercise jurisdiction when Philippine courts are unwilling or unable to do so.
He noted that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is already mandated by the Philippine Constitution to investigate alleged crimes against humanity, and that the ICC cannot conduct its own investigation until domestic institutions have acted on the matter.
“In other words, Philippine courts have primary jurisdiction in any complaint for crimes against humanity,” Roque explained.
Haling Duterte before the ICC is also premature because the President has yet to be investigated, which involves interviewing witnesses or suspects, collecting documentary evidence, or carrying out forensic analyses.
Moreover, the Rome Statute only applies after a state ratifies the Rome Statute, which was in 2011 in the case of the Philippines.
“In light of the foregoing, I urge everyone to exercise caution in viewing the Philippine campaign against drugs as an international crime. While I maintain my position that the right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights, I also believe in due process and respect for state sovereignty,” Roque said.
Representatives Edcel Lagman of Albay, Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list and Tom Villarin of Akbayan party-list earlier warned the Palace not to take Duterte’s possible ICC prosecution lightly.
“The Duterte administration must not dismiss with cavalier attitude the possibility of the ICC taking jurisdiction over charges against President Duterte for involvement, enticement and/or condonation of extrajudicial killings related to the deadly campaign against the drug menace which may be considered crimes against humanity,” Lagman said.