Malacañang takes swipe at critics as PH formally pulls out of ICC

Robie de Guzman   •   March 18, 2019   •   1953

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Salvador Panelo | Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday (March 18) dismissed the statements from critics that the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) could lead to impunity and more human rights abuses as “misleading and baseless response”.

The Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC took effect on Sunday (March 17) following the failure of the Supreme Court to issue a ruling on consolidated petitions seeking to stop the pullout.

Gabriela Party-list has warned that the country’s withdrawal could lead to “nastier rights abuses” while the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) believes that impunity will win as a consequence of the withdrawal.

The Amnesty International also said the pullout is a futile attempt to evade international justice.

Malacañang has denounced the statements, accusing these groups of engaging in conspiracy theories.

“It is open for conspiracy theories by the political opposition, the left and the human rights,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo  said.

The Duterte government has repeatedly alleged that these groups are in conspiracy with each other.

“March 17 has passed, the sky has not fallen and the sun still rises in the east, our people desire policies with results rather than noise emanating from groups closely associated with the [Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front] and defeated major political party which is presently fighting for political survival and relevance,” Panelo added.

The Philippines’ withdrawal took effect a year after it told the United Nations that it was leaving the permanent war crimes tribunal. The move was prompted by ICC’s move to launch a preliminary examination in 2018 on accusations that President Rodrigo Duterte committed crimes against humanity through his war on drugs.

Duterte cited “outrageous” attacks on his administration and the supposedly illegal attempt to place him under the ICC’s jurisdiction as reasons for the country’s pullout.

Panelo stressed that the government’s war on drugs is anchored on national survival as well as accountability of those who seek to destroy the nation.

He reiterated that extrajudicial killings are not state-sanctioned but rather consequences of turf wars among drug syndicates.

He added that deaths in police operations happen because suspects resist arrest with violence that endangers the lives of police officers.

“There is no culture of impunity under this administration. The country’s criminal justice system continues to be operational and strictly compliant with the constitutional requirement of due process,” Panelo said.

He also urged those who assert that drug-war deaths were state-sponsored to file complaints before appropriate administrative and judicial bodies.

“Failure to undertake this process can only mean that they are engaged in conjectures and politicizing the matter to the advantage of drug personalities and criminals,” he said.

Panelo has earlier reiterated that the Philippines has never been a state party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC.

“The Philippines cannot leave that which has never joined in the first place,” he added. “The Philippines never became a state party to the Rome Statute which created the ICC. As far as we are concerned, this tribunal is non-existent and its actions a futile exercise.”

Despite the withdrawal, the ICC said it will continue the preliminary examination it launched in February 2018.

But Panelo said that “should the ICC proceed with its undertakings relative to the Philippines and violate the provisions of the instrument which created it in the process, it can only mean that it is bent on interfering with the sovereignty of our republic.”

Meanwhile, former Presidential Spokesman, Harry Roque, an expert on international law, admitted to being “very sad” over the country’s decision to pull out from the international court.

He stressed, however, that the Administration made the right decision to withdraw, underscoring that “the ICC was never intended to be a court of first resort.”

Roque stated that at the time when the Philippines joined the Rome Statute of the ICC, it was “under the principle of complementarity,” which means, there is no overlapping in jurisdictions between the two parties.

Roque also reiterated that the Philippine local courts are still functioning and that, “it is only when local courts are unable and unwilling to invest the most horrendous crimes committed against international community that the ICC should take and exercise jurisdiction.”

The Philippines is the second country to quit the ICC next to Burundi in 2017. Gambia and South Africa also withdrew their membership from the Hague-based body but later reversed its decisions.

ICC’s 123rd member

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ neighboring country, Malaysia, took a different path by joining the ICC as its 123rd member.

Malaysia said its move to join the Hague-based body “reflects its commitment to combating international crimes for global peace and security.”

The ICC, for its part, said it was inspired to see Malaysia joining the ICC, adding that its accession to the Rome Statute was a veritable act of recognition of the continuing value of the Rome Statute and the ICC. – Robie de Guzman

Pahayag ni Pangulong Duterte na pagdadala ng maraming pera sa kampanya, idinepensa ng Palasyo

Robie de Guzman   •   July 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Ipinagtanggol ng Palasyo ng Malakanyang ang panibagong kontrobersiyal na pahayag ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte hinggil sa pagdadala ng maraming pera sa pangangampanya.

Ayon kay Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, fund-raising sa mga pribadong indibiduwal ang tinutukoy ng punong ehekutibo na hindi naman aniya ipinagbabawal ng batas.

Batid rin aniya ng pangulo na iligal gamitin ang pondo ng taumbayan para sa anomang partisan activities lalo na sa vote-buying.

“There is no prohibition in the Omnibus Election Code to raise funds from private individuals for the candidacies of individuals. So, that is what the president meant, it is an assurance to his party mates that he will not only physically campaign for them he will also raise funds for them,” ang paliwanag ni Roque.

Sa National Assembly ng partidong PDP-Laban sa Clark, Pampanga noong Sabado, sinabi ni Pangulong Duterte na handa siyang mangampanya para sa mga miyembro ng partido na nais muling kumandidato sa nalalapit na halalan. Magdadala rin aniya siya ng sako-sakong pera.

“Those running for reelection, ikakampanya ko kayo city por city. Totoo ‘yan. Kayong mga nagtatakbo, I will — I commit to you. Talagang pupunta ako city por city, province por province, kakampanya ko kayo. Pero — at saka magdala ako ng maraming pera por sako kung mayroon,” ang pahayag ng pangulo.

Una nang kinuwestiyon ni Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes ang pahayag na ito ng punong ehekutibo at sinabing may salapi ang pangulo para sa kampanya pero walang pera para sa ayuda sa pandemic response, at mga sektor na labis na naapektuhan ng krisis.

Samantala, sinabi naman ng Palasyo na sa kasalukuyan ay wala pang pinal na listahan ng senatorial bets si Pangulong Duterte para sa 2022 elections bagaman ilan na sa kaniyang mga gabinete ang iniendorso nito sa publiko. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte slams proposed ICC probe anew

Maris Federez   •   June 22, 2021

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on June 21, 2021. JOEY DALUMPINES/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte once again stressed his stance against the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.

“Why would I defend or face an accusation before white people? You must be crazy. Mga colonizers ito noon (They were colonizers in the past) and they have not atoned for their sins against the countries that they invaded, including the Philippines,” Duterte said.

The president maintained that he will just face a Philippine court in front of a Filipino judge.

“They are trying to set up a court outside our country and making us liable to face them. Our laws are different. Our criminal procedure is different. How are you supposed to get justice there?” the President said. “I will readily face a court, being accused in a Philippine court before a Filipino judge.”

Duterte made this statement after Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año reported during a pre-taped meeting with the president the status of the government’s anti-illegal drug operations.

In his report, Año enumerated the arrests made by authorities which include high-profile individuals and the number of those killed during their operations.

This, the President said, is what the ICC does not understand.

“If you do not move against them, it will destroy our country. Narco-politics ito eh,” Duterte said, adding that such has been eradicated after several mayors were killed during anti-drug operations.

“We’re not saying that we are killing them. We kill them because they fight back,” he said.

Last June 15, outgoing ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested that the court conduct an investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity committed by the Duterte administration in its war on drugs. —/mbmf

Complainants ready to support ICC on probe vs. Duterte war on drugs

Marje Pelayo   •   June 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Complainants in the Philippines’ drug war issue said there won’t be any problem even if the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte won’t cooperate in the investigation that was sought by former International Criminal Court Prosecutor (ICC) Fatou Bensouda.

According to Atty. Kristina Conti of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) who stands as one of the legal counsels of the complainants, they are more than willing to support the investigation by providing witnesses and pieces of evidence.

“Kung usapin naman access doon sa witnesses doon sa mga dokumento na hindi makapasok sa PIlipinas, pwede naman kami gumawa ng paraan na kami yung mga witnesses yung lalabas ng bansa,” Conti said.

She said that although officials of the Duterte government have the right to remain silent about the issue, the complainants have the right to access evidence under the Freedom of Information Law, especially if the killings involved their loved ones.

They believe justice will be served as culprits in the crime will soon be put behind bars.

“Hindi kami sasalalay doon sa kung ano ang sasabihin nila. Hindi kami sasalalay kung ano ang aaminin nila. Sasalalay kami doon sa lakas namin. The strength of the prosecution will rely kung ano yung aming ebidensya,” the lawyer added.

Atty. Neri Colmenares who also stands as one of the legal counsels of the complainants expressed confidence that the case will yield positive results in their favor.

“We are very confident na magawa and of course hopefully ang bagong presidente sa 2022 will not protect President Duterte lalo na kung wala na siya sa pwesto,” he said.

The NUPL said they expected the administration’s refusal to cooperate in the probe which was obvious when the national government decided to withdraw from the ICC sometime in 2019 when attempts to investigate the so-called extrajudicial killings in the Philippines surfaced.

“Alam ito ni Secretary Roque bilang familiar siya sa ICC. States have the responsibility to fulfill their duties even after they have left the ICC kasi itong imbestigasyon na ito ay nasimulan noong miyembro pa tayo hindi pwedeng aalis na lang tayo tapos bahala na,” Conti argued.

The group is asking President Duterte that, for the sake of fairness, if the Chief Executive chooses to keep mum on the issue, he should at least allow the investigation and provide protection to the complainants and the witnesses.  MNP (with reports from Dante Amento)

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