The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to conduct its preliminary examination on the alleged summary executions related to President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign to suppress the narcotics problem in the Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed on Thursday, February 8 in a Palace briefing.
“Our mission in The Hague was informed that the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is opening a preliminary examination on the alleged acts associated with the campaign against illegal drugs covering the period of July 2016,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.
The spokesman, however, clarified that the intent of preliminary examination is to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation, and is different from the preliminary investigation.
“The office of the prosecutor is merely exercising his mandate to determine whether there is reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into a situation pursuant to the criteria in the Rome Statute namely jurisdiction, admissibility and interest of justice,” Roque said.
In April 2017, lawyer Jude Sabio, counsel of hitman Edgar Matobato, filed a complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 other government officials before the ICC, accusing Duterte of being a “mass murderer,” and to bring a suit against Duterte for “the terrifying and gruesome situation of continuing mass murder in the Philippines.”
Sabio also asked ICC to institute legal proceedings against the president over his involvement in the so-called Davao Death Squad.
In the same year, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano filed a supplemental communication against Duterte and other officials before ICC.
Roque, however, said that the administration’s war contra illegal drugs are lawful and a sovereign act, saying that the investigation would be a “waste of time and resources” for the court.
He added that the chief executive welcomes the preliminary examination as he is “sick and tired” of being accused of crimes against humanity.
“Because the war against drug is a lawful, legitimate police operation, it cannot be characterized as an attack against civilian populations because they are civilians,” Roque pointed out.
“We view of course this decision of the prosecutor as the waste of the court’s time and resources,” he said.
“The President has said that he also welcomes this preliminary examination because he’s sick and tired of being accused of the commission of crimes against humanity,” he added.
According to Roque, Duterte said that the ICC’s launching of the preliminary examination is an opportunity to prove that the case is not subject to the court’s jurisdiction.
“This is an opportunity for him to prove that this is not subject to the court’s jurisdiction because of both complementarity that domestic courts; and the fact that we have a domestic international humanitarian law statute in our jurisdiction are reasons enough for the court not to exercise jurisdiction,” he said.
Duterte has been hurled with numerous of accusations of violating human rights due to his iron-fist take against illegal drugs.