PH withdraws from International Criminal Court

admin   •   March 15, 2018   •   3498

FILE: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in his speech during the opening ceremony of the National Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Challenge at the Team Davao Inc. Pistol and Rifle Range in Ma-a, Davao City on March 1, 2018, expresses his admiration for the SWAT’s role in dealing with criminality, illegal drugs and terrorism. JOEY DALUMPINES/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Violation of due process and attacks from United Nations (UN) officials that violate the constitutional provision on the presumption of innocence are the reasons why President Rodrigo Duterte decided on the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) founding treaty, the Rome Statute, “effective immediately”.

ICC hears cases on crimes against humanity.

“Ang nagiging problema kasi sa ICC (The problem with ICC), from the perception of the President, it has become a political tool to harass a particular country like ours,” said presidential chief legal counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo.

Based on the statement of the President, there appears to be a concerted effort on the part of the UN special rapporteurs to paint him as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings.

The President also claims that the ICC has made a premature public pronouncement of its preliminary examination on the anti-drug war of his administration.

The examination came after the information was filed by the camp of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato and his lawyer Atty. Jude Sabio as well as Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano in 2017.

The President argued that such move gave the impression that he has already been charged of serious crimes in the International Criminal Court under its jurisdiction.

It was in 2011 when the Philippines joined the ICC as the 117th member-state after it ratified its Rome Statute.

However, this is not enforceable because the government then failed to publicize the said Rome Statute in its Official Gazette.

“Rome Statute should have been published in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation before it could be deemed effective in this country. Since it was not, there is no Rome Statute to speak of in the first place,” said the presidential chief legal counsel.

Aside from this, the government also insists that the acts complained of in relation to the anti-drug war are neither genocide nor war crimes since the deaths occurring in the process of legitimate police operation lacked the intent to kill and police only defended themselves against violent resistance of drug personalities.

The statements of UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard as well as UN human rights chief Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein are biased and show a refusal to respect the Philippines independence from foreign influence and control.

The preliminary examination also by Prosecutor Fatou Besouda seems to appear that ICC is being used as a political tool against the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Senate President Koko Pimentel said they have no power to reverse the decision of the President on the issue of withdrawal from ICC.

“It’s just simple notification from the state,” said Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.

“If I were president, gagawin ko rin yun . Imagine, sino nagrereklamo? Tapos ano ang mga alegasyon? Hindi ba ito domestic policy? This is law enforcement,” said Pimentel.

( If I were president I would’ve done the same. Imagine, who is complaining? What are the allegations? Is this not a domestic policy? This is law enforcement.)

The government, on the other hand, denied that President Duterte is copping out from his alleged potential liability or responsibility.

“Ever since naman sinasabi ni President Duterte na we’re open to investigation from any human rights body. Pumunta lang kayo rito. Hindi yung you rely on what you read, on what you received on the kind of information na false. Punta kayo rito. Tignan ninyo yung bansa natin,” said Panelo.

(The President ever since has said that we’re open to investigation from any human rights body. Just come to the country and not rely on what you read, what you receive — the kind of information that is false. Come here and check out for yourself.) — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News and Rescue

 

Roque to ask Duterte on possibility of voluntarily disclosing SALN

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he will ask President Rodrigo Duterte if he is willing to voluntarily release his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) following the strict rules imposed by the Ombudsman on the access to the wealth declaration of officials.

Roque said the president’s office is just following the guidelines issued by the Ombudsman.

“Mag-uusap po kami ng ating president at para matapos na po itong issue na ito, ay tatanungin ko po baka naman po magbigay ng permiso ang president para isapubliko ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.

The Ombudsman recently issued a memorandum circular restricting access to the SALN of public officials.

The circular states that a copy of a public official’s SALN may only be released if the requestor is an authorized representative of the declarant or the person who filed the document; if there is a court order in relation to a pending case, and if the request is made by the Ombudsman’s field investigation units.

Prior to the issuance of the circular, Roque said Duterte had released his SALN yearly.

“Wala pong itinatago ang ating president, bago po maglabas ng ganitong guidelines ang Ombdusman, taon-taon naman po inilalabas ng president ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.

The question of whether Duterte will voluntarily publicize his own net worth resurfaced after the 2019 SALN of 24 senators were released by the Senate on Thursday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Proposed order for price cap on COVID-19 tests awaiting Duterte decision – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A proposed executive order that will impose a price cap on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests is now awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Department of Health’s (DOH) Technical Working Group (TWG) submitted the proposal after completing its review on the recommended price cap.

Roque refused to divulge the recommended price ceiling on coronavirus testing in private hospitals and laboratories but he expressed optimism that the president will approve the proposal.

“Hintayin po muna natin ang desisyon ng president. Why is that? Kasi yung iba naman, napakataas ng sinisingil, alam naman natin, pwedeng mas mura yang testing na yan,” he said in a televised briefing.

Roque said the proposal seeks to make COVID-19 testing affordable and could help boost the government’s contact tracing and mass testing efforts.

“Para mas maging affordable ang testing sa ating mga kababayan ng sa gayong paraan ay mas maraming matetesting,” he said.

The DOH earlier recommended the placing of a price ceiling after observing differences in the COVID-19 testing cost in various laboratories and hospitals in the country. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Guevarra on order to probe corruption in entire gov’t: ‘Toughest task from Duterte’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said that the order for him to conduct a government-wide probe of corruption is his “toughest” assignment ever received from President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a taped speech aired on Tuesday morning, Duterte directed the DOJ to expand the role of its task force, which probed the alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), to cover the entire government.

He also authorized the DOJ to decide on which allegation to investigate taking into consideration the gravity thereof and their impact on the delivery of government service.

The chief executive also granted DOJ the power to create as many panels as necessary and direct other government agencies to be part of such committees.

Duterte said his directive will remain in effect until the end of his term on June 30, 2022 unless sooner lifted or revoked.

“Apart from my usual responsibilities as SOJ, this new assignment is the toughest I have ever received from the President,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

“I will need all the support and cooperation of the entire government machinery to achieve this singular objective of substantially reducing corruption in government,” he added.

Considering the scope of the task, Guevarra said he will first determine the overall strategy and the order of priorities as well as the setting up of the expanded anti-corruption task force.

“Tentatively, I am thinking of creating several strike forces that will simultaneously attack various corruption-prone agencies,” he said.

Guevarra also said that he intends to immediately focus on the organizational set-up and mechanism that will carry out the president’s directive.

The Justice Secretary added that it would also help if government workers and other people would come forward to provide the task force with the necessary information to uncover corrupt activities and identify perpetrators.

“The new and expanded anti-corruption task force will take it from there,” he said.

The DOJ already leads an inter-agency task force, formed in August, that probed alleged corruption in the PhilHealth which resulted in the filing of complaints against several officials, including former PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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