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Duterte defiant against ICC probe

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President Rodrigo Duterte remains unfazed by the latest move of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to conduct a formal investigation into his crackdown on illegal drugs, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

In an online press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte would not cooperate with the ICC when it starts its probe into the crime against humanity allegedly committed during his relentless campaign against illegal drugs.

“Wala pong reaksiyon ang Presidente dahil sa mula’t mula niyan, sinasabi niya na siya ay mamamatay muna bago siya haharap sa mga dayuhang nasa huwes (The President has no reaction because from the very start he has been saying he will die first before he faces foreign judges),” Roque said.

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The ICC’s pre-trial chamber on Wednesday gave its green light to the request of its former chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to conduct a full-blown investigation into Duterte’s drug war.

Duterte, Roque said, would just let the ICC proceed with its plan to investigate his anti-narcotics campaign.

Roque, however, said, the ICC would just waste its time and resources in probing the anti-narcotics drive in the Philippines.

“So, sa kanya, bahala sila kung ano ang gusto nilang gawin (So, for him, let them do what they want),” he said. “Wala namang possibility na magkakaroon ng successful prosecution dahil iyan po ay pagsayang lamang ng oras at ng resources ng ICC mismo (There is no possibility that there will be successful prosecution because the ICC will just waste its time and resources).”

‘Working’ justice system

Roque said Duterte would never allow ICC to have jurisdiction over him because the Philippines has a “working” justice system.

Duterte would only participate in the ICC investigation, if local courts are no longer functioning, Roque added.

“Kung mayroong reklamo, dapat dito isampa sa Pilipinas, dahil ang ating mga hukuman ay gumagana. At ang korte ng ICC ay walang hurisdiksiyon, puwede lang siyang mag-akto sa mga kaso kung ang mga hukuman natin ay hindi gumagana (If there is a complaint, file it before the Philippine courts because they are working. The ICC has no jurisdiction over us. It can only act, if our courts are not working),” Roque said.

Roque said Duterte would respect anyone who will challenge his drug war before the local and competent courts.

“Ang paninindigan ni Presidente, lahat nang gustong magreklamo, bukas po ang ating mga hukuman sa Pilipinas (The President’s stance is our Philippine courts are open to anyone who wants to file a complaint),” he said.

In a separate statement, Interior and Local Secretary Eduardo Año said the Philippine National Police (PNP) is prepared for any investigation but will decide based on “the guidance of the President.”

“This is a policy matter where only the President has the authority to decide whether to allow a non-local inquiry or not. Hence, we shall abide [by] the guidance of the President,” Año said.

The ICC’s move to conduct an investigation into Duterte’s drug war came despite the Philippines’ cutting of ties with the international court.

The Philippines formally withdrew its membership from the ICC on March 17, 2019, or exactly a year after it revoked the Rome Statute that created the international tribunal.

Bensouda pushed through with the preliminary examination into the drug campaign in February 2018.

Duterte and other Philippine officials have repeatedly said the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines since the Rome Statute was never published in a newspaper of general circulation or the Official Gazette.


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