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Preliminary ICC examination on PH drugs war welcomed

By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

President Duterte welcomes the decision of the International Criminal Court to conduct a preliminary examination on the alleged killings and human rights abuses in the government’s war against illegal drugs, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said yesterday.

Roque said that the Philippine mission in The Hague has received information that the ICC Office of the Prosecutor is opening a preliminary examination on the alleged crimes against humanity in the war against drugs that the President have committed since assuming office in 2016.

Roque, in a press briefing, said Duterte welcomes the move as he is already sick and tired of being accused of killing innocent people.

“The President and I met about this extensively for more than two hours last night. The President has said that he also welcomes the preliminary examination because he is sick and tired of being accused of the commission of crimes against humanity,” he said.

“He, of course, stands by his position that he swore an oath to protect this Republic against all threats to national security,” he said, adding that Duterte noted that illegal drugs are a threat to national security.

Roque noted that even if the ICC proceeds with an investigation and eventually charges Duterte for crimes against humanity, they will not be able to do something against him.

“The ICC relies on State cooperation for arrest of individiuals, although this is speculative. But right now they have a problem. They have charged a sitting President, Al Basheer of Sudan, and they’re not able to apprehend him because no State cooperates,” Roque said.

Roque expressed confidence that discussion on the drug war at the ICC will not even go past the stage of preliminary examination.

The Palace official also said that Malacañang thinks that the move is a “waste of time and resources” as it is not yet time for the ICC to intervene in the Philippines’ domestic matters, citing provision of the Rome Statute that the ICC can only exercise its jurisdiction when domestic courts are unable or unwilling to act on local issues.

“We view of course this decision of the prosecutor as a waste of the Court’s time and resources. Again, as a matter of sovereign consent, we gave our consent to be a member of the ICC, subject to No. 1, the court being a court of last resort; and secondly, subject to the principle of complementarity; and No. 3, that not all crimes are cognizible by the Court because only crimes which are of the gravest nature, greatest affront against the international community should be subject to the jurisdiction of the Court,” Roque said.