MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday said the case lodged before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in connection with the legality of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs “will not fly”.
Aguirre made this comment after the ICC decided to conduct preliminary examination on Duterte’s drug war based on the complaint filed by Jude Sabio, lawyer of self-confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) member Edgar Matobato.
“The accusation will not fly. We are confident of our defenses,” said Aguirre, adding that the Duterte administration would be absolved of the allegations that it committed “crimes against humanity.”
The DOJ chief said the government would soon designate a lawyer who will represent them at the ICC.
“We will know who will represent after a few more meetings,” he said.
The Office of the President yesterday received notification that the ICC would conduct a preliminary examination into the allegations of crimes against humanity against Duterte and 11 other government officials.
International criminal law prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the examination will be conducted in order to determine whether the ICC has jurisdiction over the matter.
According to OSG Spokesperson Erik Dy, the ICC cannot replace the country’s national courts.
“The ICC may only exercise jurisdiction where domestic courts are incapable of carrying out the proper proceedings,” Dy said.
“There are adequate laws and remedies in our country to address the issue of alleged extrajudicial killings,” he said. “In fact, petitions against the administration’s war on drugs are now pending for resolution before the Supreme Court.”
“This negates the need for the ICC to take cognizance of the matter,” Dy added.
On Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is ready to face the ICC to “personally” defend the legality of his administration’s war on drugs.
“The President has said that if need be, he will argue his case personally before the International Criminal Court,” Roque said in a Palace briefing, citing his two-hour discussion with Duterte on Wednesday night.
Roque further said that Duterte welcomed the preliminary examination as a chance to defend his drug war because he’s “sick and tired” of being accused of crimes against humanity.
“This is an opportunity for him (Duterte) 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 statuted in our jurisdiction are reasons enough for the court not to exercise jurisdiction,” Roque said.
The ICC Office of the Prosecutor would begin preliminary examination on the crimes against humanity linked to the campaign against illegal drugs.
Sabio has filed a complaint in April last year before the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands, accusing Duterte and 11 other government officials of crimes against humanity.
Sabio filed a criminal case for crimes against humanity claiming that Duterte allegedly violated the Articles of the Rome Statute through committing mass murder or extrajudicial executions during his term as Davao City mayor and now President of the Philippines through his “aggressive campaign against illegal drugs.”