After Sabio's withdrawal of communication, Palace claims ICC being used by opposition as weapon vs Duterte
The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is conducting a preliminary examination into President Rodrigo Duterte's alleged crimes against humanity.
International Criminal Court
After Sabio's withdrawal of communication, Palace claims ICC being used by opposition as weapon vs Duterte
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - January 15, 2020 - 12:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — The International Criminal Court—which is conducting a preliminary examination into the government’s violent anti-drug crackdown—should realize it is being used by detractors to bring the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte down, Malacañang said Wednesday.

This, after Jude Sabio announced he was withdrawing the communication he filed against Duterte at the ICC. The lawyer said he does not want the communication to be used for political purposes.

“I fervently request that the legal matter pending with your office in relation to the war on drugs in the Philippines should be set aside and thrashed for being just a part of the political propaganda of [former] Sen. [Antonio] Trillanes IV and Sen. [Leila] de Lima and their Liberal Party-led opposition of which I do not wish to be part of,” Sabio said in his affidavit.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said this shows that the move is part of the “vilification campaign” pursued by detractors and the political opposition.

“Trillanes must be squirming in his disgraced retirement by Sabio’s turnabout. Lies can only be sustained for sometime. When conscience haunts and torments the peddler, it melts by the heat of truth,” Panelo said.

He added: “Slowly but surely, the destabilizers of the Duterte administration are being undressed. Their obnoxious smell like ashfall pollute the air.”

The president’s mouthpiece also said the Hague-based tribunal must wake up from its “stupor if not ignorance.”

“It should realize by now that it is being used by disgruntled and discredited persons to advance their goal of besmirching the reputation of PRRD and achieving their impossible dream of bringing down the Duterte presidency,” Panelo said as he insists that the court has no jurisdiction.  

In 2017, Sabio accused Duterte 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 Davao City mayor through the so-called Davao Death Squad to the present after assuming presidency through his bloody war on drugs.

'Withdrawal won’t matter'

Lawyers stressed that Sabio’s withdrawal will not have an effect on the preliminary examination conducted by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda because it is just one of the many communications.

There have been at least 52 communications filed against Duterte at the ICC.

“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 our own merits,” lawyer Edre Olaila, National Union of People’s Lawyers president, said.

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.”

Trillanes also dismissed Sabio’s withdrawal of ICC communication, saying the latter merely acted as the lawyer who facilitated the drafting of testimonies of witnesses Arturo Lascañas at Edgar Matobato.

In February 2018, Bensouda’s office announced it would open preliminary examination into the alleged extrajudicial killings linked with the government’s anti-drug crackdown.

This prompted the Philippine government to withdraw it ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established ICC.

The country’s withdrawal formally took effect in March 2019. Despite the withdrawal, the initial review continues. Bensouda said her office will finalize the preliminary examination in 2020.

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