In this file photo, lawyer Jude Sabio shows the stamped complaint he filed before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands on April 24, 2017.
Office of Sen. Trillanes. handout, file
Withdrawal of Sabio communication vs Duterte at ICC has little effect, lawyer says
( - January 14, 2020 - 2:55pm

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2;  3:35 p.m.) — Lawyer Jude Sabio's withdrawal of his communication at the International Criminal Court has little effect on the court prosecutor's preliminary examination into alleged rights violations in the Duterte administration's 'war on drugs,' the lead counsel of the Philippine Coalition for the ICC said Tuesday.

Sabio, who filed his communication at the ICC in April 2017, on Tuesday announced in Filipino in a video posted by lawyer Larry Gadon that he is withdrawing the communication "because I cannot stomach what Senator Trillanes and his allies in the Liberal Party-led opposition did in the 'Bikoy' mess."

He was referring to a series of anonymous videos accusing President Rodrigo Duterte, his family, and his allies of having links to the illegal drug trade.

RELATED: DOJ: Authorities arrest person who uploaded 'Bikoy' videos

The government claims the videos were part of a conspiracy to discredit the president and has filed sedition complaints against Vice President Leni Robredo, former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and other personalities identified with the political opposition over them.

The personalities linked to the videos in a "matrix" released by the Palace have denied involvement in any conspiracies against the president.

READ: Palace-vetted 'conspiracy matrix' to oust Duterte has errors

Sabio said added in Gadon's video: "Gumawa sila ng mga kalokohan laban kay Pangulong Duterte at nakita ko na ginagamit lang nila ang kaso sa ICC para sa kanilang politika at ayaw ko nang maging kasali sa ganyang katarantaduhan."

(They have engaged in such mischief against President Duterte and I saw that they were using the case at the ICC for their political agenda and I no longer want to be part of such foolishness)

In a signed affidavit that Gadon also shared with reporters, Sabio asked ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to have his communication withdrawn "and that it be expunged or erased from the record, and that it should not be used in any way in the ongoing preliminary examination."

Gadon only shared portions of Sabio's affidavit.

This file photo shows the cover letter of the communication that Sabio filed with the International Criminal Court in April 2017.

Sabio had accused Duterte in 2017 of "repeatedly, unchangingly and continuously" committing extrajudicial executions since 1988.

He also claimed that Duterte has been waging mass murders constituting crime against humanity from his term as mayor of Davao City under his Davao Death Squad to the present after assuming the presidency through his bloody "drug war".

In a statement, lawyer Romel Bagares, lead counsel of the Philippine Coalition for the ICC said that Sabio's communication "was largely irrelevant as it dealt with matters before Mr. Duterte became president."

He added Bensouda's office had said in December that "it consulted open sources in its preliminary examination so it is not limited to him (Sabio)." 

NUPL: Sabio's just one of many communications

Lawyer Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of People's Lawyers, said in a separate statement that he cannot speculate on why Sabio chose to withdraw his communication at the ICC.

He said, however, that "our position is this should not be divested or frustrated by a unilateral withdrawal of a communication, especially if there are other facts and evidence to proceed with the process."

Olalia assisted relatives of people allegedy killed in the government's "war on drugs" file a communication at the ICC in 2018 accusing the president of being "criminally responsible and liable" for murder "for the extrajudicial killings of thousands of Filipinos" and other inhumane acts "for causing great suffering to the victims and their families," all punishable under the Rome Statute of the ICC.

NUPL has since filed two supplementary pleadings, including one accusing the Philippine National Police of adjusting data on the number of people killed in anti-drug operations "in their attempt to shield the perpetrators and cover up the actual number of deaths."

Olalia said Tuesday that the "communication or complaint filed by the kin of the illegal 'drug war' which we assisted as well as our subsequent supplemental submissions were filed independently of the Sabio communication and can very well stand on their own merits."

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