Palace says ICC has no jurisdiction to probe drug war killings; PHL gov’t won’t cooperate with ICC

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during his regular press briefing on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 (Screenshot of PCOO video)


(Eagle News) – The Philippine government maintained that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has no jurisdiction to investigate drug war killings, insisting that local courts are competent enough and working on the trial of cases.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the ICC would only acquire jurisdiction if local courts are not working, and predicted that the ICC probe if it pushes through would languish for years without the cooperation of Philippine authorities.

Because of the recent decision of the ICC allowing the prosecutor to proceed with the investigation, Roque said that it would now depend on the current ICC prosecutor Karim Asad Ahmad Khan if he would still proceed with the investigation that was being pushed by his predecessor, Fatou Bensouda.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 29, 2015 former ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda waits for former vice-president in the transitional government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to enter the court room of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to stand trial on charges including corruptly influencing witnesses by giving them money and instructions to provide false testimony, and presenting false evidence, in The Hague. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / PETER DEJONG
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Karim Asad Ahmad Khan holds a press conference at the Ministry of Justice in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on August 12, 2021.. (Photo by Ebrahim HAMID / AFP)

If he does proceed, Roque said the investigation would just “sleep” or not move given the lack of cooperation of the Philippines which had already left the ICC in March 2018.

Ang aking prediksyon, matutulog lang po ang kasong yan, dahil in the absence of cooperation, lalong lalo na sa kapulisan ay wala po talagang ebidensyang makakalap,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing Thursday, Sept. 16.

Roque said that President Rodrigo Duterte had also “no reaction” to the latest decision from the ICC pre-trial chamber that granted the request of former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open an investigation on the drug war killings in the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Palace on September 15, 2021. KARL ALONZO/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

He said that the President still maintained that the ICC has no jurisdiction in the case, and that he would never allow himself to submit to foreign judges.

“Wala pong reaksiyon ang Presidente dahil sa mula’t mula niyan, sinasabi niya na siya ay mamamatay muna bago siya haharap sa mga dayuhang mga huwes,” Roque said.

-Complaints on drug war should be filed in PHL- Palace-

He said that the President also maintained that any complaint to be filed on the drug war killings should be done in a court of law in the Philippines. The ICC can only have jurisdiction if courts in the country are now working or unwilling to open an investigation into the cases here.

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 o ‘di naman kaya ay iyong tinatawag na unwilling na magkaroon ng hurisdiksiyon sa mga kaso na pinapatawan ng parusa, hindi lang po ng Rome Statute, kung hindi po ng ating batas sa Pilipinas na tinatawag na IHL Law,” Roque said in a press briefing on Thursday, Sept. 16.

-Roque: PHL courts are working-

Roque explained that Philippine courts are working, and the country maintains sovereignty over issues in its jurisdiction.

He also predicted that nothing would come out of the ICC’s investigation as Philippine authorities, including the police, would not submit to it, or cooperate in any manner.

The International Criminal Court at the Hague in the Netherlands. (Photo from International Criminal Court website)

He said that it would all boil down to what the ICC pre-trial chamber had previously said that any investigation that would not result in a successful prosecution because of lack of cooperation should not be continued.

Sa isang hearing, kailangan ng police report, e paano ang gagawin nila? Hindi magcocooperate ang mga pulis para ibigay ang police report,” he said.

Hindi magco-cooperate ang autopsy, yung mga forensics expert na gumagawa ng medico-legal, hindi mag-cocooperate ang mga pulis kung ano ang naging resulta ng kanilang imbestigasyon.”

So yan po mismo ang sinabi ng ICC Pretrial Chamber nang sinabi niya na dapat yung prosecutor ay dapat huwag magtuloy sa imbestigasyon kung hindi naman magre-resulta sa satisfactory o successful na prosecution dahil walang kooperasyon,” Roque explained.

On September 15, 2021, the Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court granted former prosecutor Bensouda’s request “to commence an investigation in relation to crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the so-called ‘war on drugs’ campaign.”


(Eagle News Service)