It would be difficult for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to uncover the truth in President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign without the Philippine government’s cooperation, Malacañang said on Friday.
“Without the cooperation of the state, it would be hard for them) to uncover the truth,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during the Laging Handa briefing.
Roque’s statement came a day after ICC prosecutor Karim Khan vowed to conduct an “independent and impartial” investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity associated with Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign.”
Khan also said the investigation seeks to “uncover the truth and aim to ensure accountability.”
He added that the ICC is “willing to constructively engage” with Philippine authorities in accordance with the principle of complementarity and the court’s obligations under the Statute.
Roque, however, said complaints against Duterte’s drug war should be filed before the Philippine courts.
“So,for us, if there are really complaints against drug war, file before the Philippine courts so you can get the justice,” he said partly in Filipino.
Malacañang has repeatedly insisted that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines.
In March 2018, Duterte ordered the Philippines’ revocation of the Rome Statute that created ICC after former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda continued with the preliminary examination into his anti-narcotics drive in February of the same year.
The Philippines formally cut ties with the ICC on March 17, 2019, or exactly a year after the scrapping of the Rome Statute.
Despite the Philippines ‘ withdrawal from ICC, Khan said his office “retains jurisdiction” with respect to alleged crimes that happened in the Philippines while it was a state party from Nov. 1, 2011 to March 16, 2019.
The probe will cover the conduct of the drug war in the Philippines under Duterte’s watch, as well as the supposed killings in Davao City between 2011 and 2016 when he was still the mayor.
In a pre-recorded Talk to the People on Monday, Duterte said he would return to his hometown, Davao City, when his term ends in June 2020 to prepare for his defense for the ICC investigation.
Prior to Duterte’s latest statement, he vowed on September 22 that he would hold accountable the anti-drug operatives who will act “beyond bounds.”
Meantime, Roque also reacted to the call of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the Philippine government to make public its findings on drug war killings.
Bachelet was referring to the drug war reviews conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Roque said the Philippine government, through DOJ, is transparent when it comes to its relentless fight against illegal drugs.