MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte is “very confident” that the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor will not go beyond a preliminary examination on the “crimes against humanity” in the Philippines linked to the administration’s war on drugs.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark Friday in a press conference at the Dr. Manuel T. Fuentebella Memorial Hospital in Sagñay, Camarines Sur.
Roque’s pronouncement comes after the ICC Office of the Prosecutor announced that it would begin preliminary examination on the crimes against humanity linked to the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign.
“He (Duterte) is very confident that the prosecutor will not go beyond a preliminary examination,” Roque said.
Roque said Dutete “was this confident” because former United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extralegal killings, Philip Alston earlier cleared him of any possible criminal liability when workings of the so-called Davao Death Squad were investigated.
He pointed out that Alston, in his report, merely recommended criminal charges for negligence against the Philippine National police.
“The most that Special Rapporteur Philip Alston recommended then was criminal charge for simple negligence against the police,” Roque said.
“He (Duterte) is confident that at most what would be the finding would be similar to the finding of Philip Alston that sometimes not all the time police appear to be negligent in conducting the war against drugs,” he added.
Roque, meanwhile, reiterated that Duterte welcomed the preliminary examination as a “chance to clear his name from accusations that he is guilty of extralegal killings”.
Roque added that the basis of the country’s consent to become a member of the ICC was the principle of complementarity, which means that the court can only claim jurisdiction over cases of crimes against humanity if the State fails to investigate them.
“Our domestic courts are able and willing to prosecute these crimes. The ICC is only a court of last resort,” Roque said.
“Moreover, the alleged deaths attributed to the war on drugs is because of lawful police operations and cannot therefore constitute an attack against civilians which is required in crimes against humanity,” he added.