Malacañang on Wednesday claimed that the destabilizers of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration were “being undressed,” a day after lawyer Jude Josue Sabio withdrew his complaint against the Chief Executive before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Sabio, an erstwhile ally of former senator Antonio Trillanes 4th, brought the case before the ICC in 2017, accusing the President and his allies for allegedly committing crimes against humanity in instituting extrajudicial killings (EJKs) first in Davao City through the Davao Death Squad (DDS) and which was allegedly extended on a national scale through the war on drugs.
But in a 28-page sworn statement, the lawyer wants the court to trash the complaint as it was supposedly part of the political propaganda of the opposition, allegedly led by the Liberal Party.
In a statement, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said the complaint withdrawn by Sabio indicated that it was part of the “vilification campaign” by the political opposition against Duterte.
“Trillanes must be squirming in his disgraced retirement by Sabio’s turnabout. Lies can only be sustained for sometime. When conscience haunts and torments the peddler, it melts by the heat of truth,” Panelo said.
“Slowly but surely, the destabilizers of the Duterte administration are being undressed. Their obnoxious smell like ash fall pollute the air,” he added.
Panelo, who also serves as Duterte’s top legal counsel,said it appeared that Sabio was tapped by Trillanes to file the complaint against Duterte.
“The professional tie between the two has since turned sour owing to Trillanes’ alleged failure to pay Sabio’s professional fees leading to the latter’s withdrawal of his complaint before the ICC,” Panelo said.
“Sabio claims he has withdrawn his complaint because he didn’t want to be a part of the political propaganda of Trillanes and the Liberal Party. Put simply, the complaint against President Duterte, orchestrated by Trillanes, is part of the vilification campaign relentlessly pursued by the incorrigible detractors, as well as the political opposition totally repudiated by the electorate,” he said.
But Trillanes dismissed Sabio’s withdrawal of the communication and denied any professional relationship with the lawyer.
The former lawmaker also described the funds he previously gave Sabio as “aid.”
Meanwhile, Panelo said the ICC should wake up from its “stupor or ignorance” and realize it was being used by the “destabilizers” of the President.
“The ICC has to wake up from its stupor if not ignorance. It should realize by now that it is being used by disgruntled and discredited persons to advance their goal of besmirching the reputation of PRRD (President Duterte) and achieving their impossible dream of brining down the Duterte presidency,” Panelo said.
“More importantly, it should recognize the unalterable legal fact that it has no jurisdiction over the President, and for that matter, the Philippines,” he added.
The Palace official also insisted that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines even as it continued to accept complaints against Philippine government officials.
“Despite the insistence of the International Criminal Court that it has jurisdiction over the Philippines as State Party, the incontrovertible fact remains that the ICC never acquired jurisdiction over our country for the simple reason that the Rome Statute that created the ICC was never clothed with legal enforceability in our jurisdiction because it lacked the legal requirement of publication, the operative act that should have given birth to its enforceability over the Philippines,” Panelo said.
“That it continues to accept communications from entities and persons relative to complaints on human rights against Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte only demonstrates its continuing ignorance of the very source of its being,” he added.
The Philippines was officially out of the ICC in March 2019, a year after Manila announced its withdrawal from the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal.
Manila moved to quit after the body launched a preliminary examination in 2018 into Duterte’s drug crackdown, which— according to government data— has resulted in the killing of at least 5,500 people since Duterte took office in 2016.
Duterte, a former city mayor, beat his more moneyed rivals and won the race to Malacañang in 2016, promising to eradicate crime and solve the country’s drug menace in three to six months.
He later sought a six-month extension in his drug crackdown, saying he was shocked by the magnitude of the problem when he became president.
Human rights watchdogs at home and abroad say most of the fatalities in the government’s anti-narcotic drive were EJKs committed by police officers, something the Duterte administration has vehemently denied.
Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares insisted that despite Sabio’s withdrawal, the ICC would continue its case against Duterte
Colmenares said the ICC’s preliminary examination would push through as Sabio’s complaint was not the only pending case on EJKs.
“The case filed by families of EJK victims is very strong as it is supported by affidavits of witnesses, government reports, official Philippine National Police statistics and President Duterte’s admission to ordering the killings,” Colmenares said.
With a report from DIVINA NOVA JOY DELA CRUZ