Duterte administration 'will never cooperate' with any ICC probe, Palace says

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Duterte administration 'will never cooperate' with any ICC probe, Palace says
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the 123rd Philippine Independence Day celebration themed "Kalayaan 2021: Diwa ng Kalayaan sa Pagkakaisa at Paghilom ng Bayan" at the Bulacan Capitol Grounds in Malolos City, Bulacan on June 12, 2021.
Simeon Celi / Presidential photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will not cooperate with any International Criminal Court investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed during the course of the "war on drugs" as long as President Rodrigo Duterte is in power, Malacañang said Tuesday.

"The president will never cooperate until the end of his term on June 30, 2022," Harry Roque — the president's spokesman and who used to be known as a human rights lawyer — said in Filipino after outgoing ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda sought the court’s clearance to launch a full-blown investigation into the drug war killings.

Roque criticized Bensouda’s decision to move forward and seek an investigation into the drug war as “legally erroneous” and “politically motivated,” accusing the prosecutor, who is stepping down Tuesday, of wanting to prove that she can also go after non-African nationals.

He did not substantiate his claim.

Roque said the Philippines would not be cooperating with any investigation the ICC may authorize as it had pulled out of the court back in March 17, 2019. Bensouda's preliminary examination only covered the period before the Philippines withdrew from the court.

Palace red-tags complainants

Roque also reiterated his claims that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the case and that it should not proceed further as Philippine courts are functioning.

“We do not need foreigners to investigate the drug war because our legal system is functioning in the Philippines,” he said, expressing confidence that the international court will junk Bensouda’s request.

“They will just waste the court’s time and resources because without the cooperation of the Philippine state, they would not be able to build a case except based on hearsay evidence from communists and politicians who are enemies of the president,” he added.

Among those who sent communications with the ICC alleging crimes against humanity are relatives of individuals who died in drug operations, who have been assisted by the frequently red-tagged National Union of People’s Lawyers.

Roque did not substantiate his claim about communist involvement in the ICC case either.

Officials of the Duterte government have often resorted to red-tagging their critics, a practice which rights groups say could potentially lead to harm and even death. Several people have ended up dead after previously being branded as communist rebels and supporters.

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