Duterte unfazed by ICC complaint: Palace

By Azer Parrocha / Philippine News Agency

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is not bothered by the request of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for judicial authorization to investigate his administration's crackdown on illegal drugs, Malacañang said on Wednesday.


Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President will continue to fulfill his duty, but will not allow foreigners to infringe on the country’s sovereignty.


“The President has not been bothered by this case. They can do whatever they want. The President is firm that he has to do what has to be done as a duly elected President,” he said in an interview over ANC.


Contrary to what critics say, he emphasized that Duterte will never tolerate any police abuses in relation to the campaign against illegal drugs.


“He has given the public an opportunity to file their complaints. There are ongoing investigations to the DOJ (Department of Justice) now. If there is anyone who feels that they are victims, even the President has repeatedly said that he will not countenance police action that violates the law, but will support them when on the right,” he added.


Roque said Duterte will let ICC “do what they want” even as he refused to cooperate with the probe.


“I think that’s the proper perspective of the President. Let them do what they want if they could, but meanwhile, he will assert Philippine sovereignty and independence from foreign interference,” he said.


Insisting that the President has nothing to hide from the international community, he said that only local courts have exclusive jurisdiction over him.


“It’s a simple as there is such a thing as sovereignty. Sovereignty is exclusive; it is exercised to the exclusion of others, and that was our basis of our consent when we became a member of the ICC. Sovereignty and jurisdiction is only exercised by domestic states and in an exclusive manner. That simply is the nature of an independent sovereign state,” he said.


Roque, meanwhile, wished the ICC “good luck” in collecting primary evidence to prove allegations of extrajudicial killings and other abuses in the anti-illegal drugs campaign.


“Well, good luck! Because on the basis of the preliminary examination report, they need primary evidence and, on court, whether be it international, domestic, will require a primary document and primary evidence; not the kind of evidence relied upon by Bensouda, unfortunately,” he said.


On Tuesday, Roque described the ICC's move as "legally erroneous" and "politically motivated".


"It is legally erroneous because in the first place the ICC has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of crimes against humanity as alleged in her (Bensouda) information against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte," he said.


The Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute that created the ICC after a preliminary examination into the drug campaign was initiated by Bensouda in February 2018.


In pulling out the country membership in the ICC, Duterte said the ICC has no jurisdiction since the Rome Statute was never published in a newspaper of general circulation or on the Official Gazette.


The country’s withdrawal from the ICC became official in March 2019. (PNA)


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