In a press conference, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Fil-Am community leader Loida Nicolas-Lewis is capable of conspiring with the Hague-based court to indict Duterte for crimes against humanity because "she’s rich." Presidential photo, file

Palace: Loida Lewis can conspire with ICC 'because she's rich'
Ian Nicolas Cigaral ( - March 22, 2018 - 4:50pm
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday said the Filipino-American philanthropist whom President Rodrigo Duterte earlier accused of conspiring with the International Criminal Court has the means to do so.
In a press conference, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Fil-Am community leader Loida Nicolas-Lewis is capable of conspiring with the Hague-based court to indict Duterte for crimes against humanity because "she’s rich."
The Palace made the statement after Duterte recently threatened to release a transcript of a wiretapped phone conversation involving Lewis—whom he mistakenly referred to as "Loida Reyes"—regarding the ICC's preliminary examination into Manila's bloody war on drugs.
The preliminary examination is not an investigation and is several steps removed from indictment.
Duterte said the transcript was given to him by "some countries." He did not provide additional details.
Lewis has strongly denied Duterte's claim.
The Duterte administration has repeatedly pointed at conspiracies and plots against it, often without corroboration.
Last October, the president claimed that the communist rebels were working with the "yellows" — a reference to the former administration Liberal Party — against him. The national democratic movement is opposed to liberalism and has been critical of the Liberal Party and Akbayan, a rival left-leaning party that has worked with the LP since 2010.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines said that same month that it had not monitored any destabilization plots against the government.
Also that month, ranking officials of the Justice department voiced support for a so-called Citizen National Guard formed to defend the government against the following "enemies of state":
  • ISIS-inspired terrorism
  • Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army
  • Drug cartels
  • Seditious political opposition (Yellowtards)
  • Foreign intelligence agencies generation international support for regime change

Roque gives no details

Asked if he has further knowledge about the supposedly tapped phone call, Roque said that while he is not privy to the information that Duterte received, he cannot discount the possibility that Lewis had a hand in the ICC's examination into the government’s anti-narcotic campaign.
"The ICC accepts donations from private persons and organizations and I do know that particularly on the reparation fund... the ICC welcomes donations from everyone," Roque said.
Last week, Duterte said he was withdrawing the Philippines from the Rome Statute, the ICC's founding treaty, after the court announced it would conduct a preliminary examination into a communication filed by a lawyer accusing him of crimes against humanity.
Teodoro Locsin, the Philippines’ permanent representative to the UN, later sent a letter notifying United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the government's decision to leave as a member of the ICC.
However, under the Rome Statute, which the Philippines ratified in 2011, the withdrawal would not shield Duterte from possible indictment, as criminal investigations and proceedings that started at the time the country was a state party will still continue.

ICC prosecutor's phone also ‘tapped’

Aside from Lewis, Duterte also claimed he has information against ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda because her phone was also allegedly tapped.
Wiretapping is prohibited in the Philippines. 
Under Republic Act No. 4200, violations of the right to privacy of communication carry a penalty of imprisonment for not less than six months or more than six years, and absolute disqualification from public office if the offender is a public official.
Duterte then sought to discredit Bensouda's ability to handle the drug war case, saying the ICC prosecutor instead specializes in maritime law.
Bensouda holds a masters degree in International Maritime Law and Law of The Sea and is the first international maritime law expert of The Gambia. She was also previously Justice minister of The Gambia.
"Prior to her work at the International Criminal Court, Ms Bensouda worked as legal adviser and trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, rising to the position of senior legal advisor and head of the Legal Advisory Unit," the ICC said on its public website.
"She has served as delegate to United Nations conferences on crime prevention, the Organization of African Unity's Ministerial Meetings on Human Rights, and as delegate of The Gambia to the meetings of the Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court," it also said.

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