Duterte may reveal plans for 2022 polls in December – Roque

Robie de Guzman   •   June 9, 2021   •   119

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte may reveal his plans for next year’s elections in December, his spokesperson Harry Roque said on Wednesday.

In a television interview, Roque said the public will likely know whether the president will file his certificate of candidacy when the period for substitution lapses in December.

“He keeps his plans very close to his chest. My advice to everyone is, you can speculate all you want but we’ll find out whether or not he’ll file his certificate of candidacy only in October,” he said.

“We’re not sure if October is the cutoff because there is a period for substitution in sometime December,” he added.

Roque earlier said that the president will “leave to God” the decision on whether to heed calls for him to run for vice president in 2022.

In a separate interview, Duterte said he is resisting calls for vice presidential run as he is “ready for retirement” after his term ends next year.

Opposition open to alliances; must go beyond anti-Duterte platform in 2022 polls – Drilon

Robie de Guzman   •   June 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said the opposition group “must go beyond an anti-Duterte platform” in next year’s elections.

“The opposition must go beyond an anti-Duterte platform. The opposition must present a platform, which says that we can do better in the pandemic response because this is where the errors are committed and this is what we are going to do,” Drilon said in a television interview.

When asked to comment on observations that there is no one strong opposition candidate at this point, the senator said that having one opposition candidate is “desirable” but admits to it being a “very difficult task.”

“… [I]t is desirable to have one opposition candidate. That is what the 1Sambayan is trying to do. That is a very difficult task. They have taken upon themselves that difficult task. We support their effort,” he said.

“We do hope that the opposition can come up with only one candidate. As in any election in the past, the administration would always have the advantage. We must exert every effort to have one candidate to oppose the administration candidate,” he added.

Last week, political coalition 1Sambayan revealed their list of presidential and vice-presidential nominees. The list includes Vice President Leni Robredo, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos, Senator Grace Poe, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, and CIBAC party-list Representative Eddie Villanueva.

If Robredo decides not to run in 2022 polls, Drilon, who sits as Liberal Party vice chairperson, said the Liberal Party is open to alliances.

“That is the reality of politics today. As we said, we should only have one candidate. We cross our fingers that VP Robredo will decide to run for president and we believe she is the strongest and, hopefully, she can unite all the non-Duterte candidates,” he said.

“If she does not run for the presidency, then the LP will have to meet and see where we will go from there,” he added.

Duterte gov’t finds ICC prosecutor’s call to probe Philippines’ war on drugs ‘regrettable’

Marje Pelayo   •   June 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The outgoing prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda has sought permission to open a full investigation into the Philippines’ drug war under President Rodrigo Duterte.

The official argued that there is a basis to believe the government’s war on drugs has committed ‘the crime against humanity of murder’ which she claimed had killed thousands of people, including innocent children.

Just in time for her last day in office as ICC prosecutor on Tuesday (June 15), Bensouda argued “that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the Crime Against Humanity of murder was committed” in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019, based on a that a preliminary probe that began in February 2018.

That same period was when Duterte ordered the withdrawal of the Philippines from the ICC.

In response, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday issued a statement saying that the Philippine government finds Bensouda’s announcement “regrettable”.

The statement underscored that the Inter-Agency Review Panel headed by the Secretary of Justice is still conducting reinvestigation on cases involving fatalities in the campaign against illegal drugs, and that the Panel should be allowed to finish such work.

“The International Criminal Court is a court of last resort. The States Parties to the Rome Statute envisioned a court with a complementary, not primary, jurisdiction for the prosecution of the persons most responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern,” the statement added.

“The Rome Statute requires the Court and the Office of the Prosecutor to respect and defer to the primary criminal jurisdiction of the concerned State Party, while proceedings are ongoing in the latter. The precipitate move of the Prosecutor is a blatant violation of the principle of complementarity, which is a bedrock principle of the Rome Statute,” it further said.

The department also said enumerated what it called concrete and progressive steps the Deterte administration has taken to address concerns in the conduct of the anti-illegal drugs campaign. It added that the government has recently finalized with the UN a Joint Program on Human Rights.

All these, the department said, “affirm the Philippines’ adherence to human rights norms and its long track record of constructive engagement with international and regional partners in human rights promotion and protection.”

“The midnight announcement by the current Prosecutor on the eve of her end of term also preempts the prerogative of her successor to make a full evaluation of the cases that he will prosecute. By her act, the outgoing Prosecutor likewise undercuts the attractiveness of the Rome Statute to States that may be considering accession,” the DFA said.

Duterte gov’t says ICC probe on PH drug war ‘legally erroneous, politically-motivated’

Robie de Guzman   •   June 15, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will never cooperate with any possible investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the alleged killings attributed to his administration’s war against drugs, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the ICC’s decision to move forward into a formal investigation is “legally erroneous” and “politically-motivated.”

“Hinding-hindi magko-cooperate ang Presidente hanggang matapos ng kanyang termino sa June 30, 2022,” he said in a press briefing.

“Hindi po natin alam kung ano ang magiging polisiya after 2022. ‘Yan po ay bibigyan ng kasagutan kung sino man ang susunod na president ng Pilipinas.

Roque issued the statement after outgoing ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Monday she has asked the court for authorization to formally conduct a full investigation into the Philippines’ drug war.

Bensouda said there is a reasonable basis to believe that murder has been committed in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019 in the context of the state policy.

But Roque, a lawyer and the only Filipino member of the ICC’s list of counsels, said the decision to conduct formal investigation is “legally erroneous because in the first place, the ICC has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of crimes against humanity as alleged in her information against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.”

He also said that the police did not systematically attack civilians in the drug war as the killings during the campaign were “coincidental or collateral damage either because the policeman had the right to defend to himself using reasonable force or they were in fact the subject of an attack and therefore justified by the principle of necessity and proportionality.”

The presidential spokesman also said that the case, even for purposes of formal investigation, is “barred by the principle of complementarity” and the investigation is “not pursuant or in aid of substantial justice.”

“Ang sinasabi po ng prinsipyo ng complementarity, the ICC will not exercise jurisdiction unless the member-state is unable or unwilling to prosecute,” he explained.

“Kapag sinabi pong unable, ibig sabihin, walang estado, walang hukuman, walang pulis na gumagana, it is a failed state. Ang unwilling po is when you have legislation according impunity to an individual, wala po tayong ganyan sa Pilipinas,” he added.

He also underscored that cases in the course of a police operation are being investigated and that the country does not need foreigners to probe the incidents because the Philippines’ legal system still works.

“Hindi po natin kinakailangan ang mga dayuhang mag-iimbestiga ng mga patayan sa drug war dahil gumagana po ang sistemang ligal sa Pilipinas. Mayroong mga piskal at hukumang nagparusa na,” Roque said.

The Palace official also believes that the complaint was politically motivated as it was filed by someone who now wants to seek a higher position in the next elections. He did not mention any names but former Senator Antonio Trillanes was believed to be behind the move.

He also claimed that Bensouda made the decision as she supposedly wants to deflect criticism that only investigates cases involving Africa.

“Politika rin ang dahilan kung bakit si Prosecutor Bensouda ay nagsampa dahil ang puna sa kanya ang kinakasuhan lang ninya ay mga kapwa Aprikano niya. Kinakailangan niyang magkaso ng hindi Aprikano, para patunayan na kaya lang niyang magsampa sa mga kapwa Aprikano niya,” Roque said.

Under ICC statute, a prosecutor must seek authorization from the pre-trial chamber if there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.

In March 2019, the Philippines effectively withdrew from the Rome Statute after Duterte cancelled the country’s membership of the ICC’s founding treaty.

Under the ICC’s withdrawal mechanism, the court retains jurisdiction over crimes committed during the membership period of a state.

The ICC’s preliminary examination on the situation in the Philippines started in February 2018, covering the period of Duterte’s first day in office in July 2016 up to the time of the country’s withdrawal form the Rome Statute.

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