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Duterte, Bato won’t cooperate

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
Duterte, Bato won�t cooperate
Screen grab from a video posted on the FB page of Jassy Egan shows former president Rodrigo Duterte with Rody the Bear plushies. Duterte’s supporters are selling the toys, with proceeds going to the House of Hope, a house for children with cancer. In his message, Duterte asked only that people support the children.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — There are “forces” behind the International Criminal Court (ICC) that want to get back at former president Rodrigo Duterte, which in the process can lead to illegal drugs flooding the country again, Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said yesterday.

Dela Rosa, who is likely among those to be investigated, also made it clear he would never cooperate with such probe, counting on previous assertions of the Marcos administration that it would not allow ICC investigators into the country.

Former Duterte spokesman Harry Roque said the former chief executive would definitely not allow a foreign court to try him for crime against humanity.

“Former president Duterte reiterates his position that he would never allow foreigners to sit in judgment of him as long as Philippine courts are willing and able to do so,” Roque said in a statement.

Roque said the former leader is ready to face charges from alleged victims of his administration’s illegal drug campaign only before local courts.

“But the former chief executive would never subject himself under the legal jurisdiction of any foreign body because it is an insult to the competence and impartiality of our functioning criminal justice system,” he said.

“There are some forces pushing them (ICC) to pursue the investigation. Even the Filipino people, they are not rushing to conduct an investigation. In fact, Filipinos don’t want them (investigators) to come here,” Dela Rosa told reporters in Filipino.

When asked about the possible motive of such groups, he said: “To (take) revenge (on) president Duterte and the Duterte administration.”

He said leftist groups and all anti-Duterte forces really want the former leader prosecuted.

“Maybe they want illegal drugs to be back and the war on drugs that we did will be all for naught and these drug syndicates will be emboldened to come back,” he said.

Dela Rosa was chief implementer of Duterte’s war on drugs or “Oplan Tokhang” as then head of the Philippine National Police.

He said nothing might come out of the ICC move as the government has maintained that the former has no jurisdiction over the country.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III has urged the Marcos administration to cooperate to show the Philippines as a responsible member in the community of nations.

He warned that the country might sustain “reputational damage” if it snubs an ICC probe. He also said the global community might conclude that “we are not a responsible and cooperative treaty partner” if the government refuses to cooperate with the ICC. Pimentel said it would be premature to talk about arrest warrants.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who also belongs to the minority bloc, welcomed the ICC decision and expressed hope that President Marcos will adhere to international law and the Rome Statute as part of the Philippines’ commitment to the community of nations against state sponsored impunity.

‘Spirit of comity’

She said she previously welcomed the commitment of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla to provide information to the ICC, “in the spirit of comity.”

“Now, I hope for the cooperation of all agencies involved so we may give justice and peace of mind to all the victims. The ICC is filling a long-standing vacuum in the investigation of the state-sponsored tokhang,” Hontiveros said.

She said the government itself cannot credibly investigate murders allegedly committed by government agents as part of government policy.

“Justice requires that an impartial body investigate killings connected to the so-called war on drugs. Justice is not fully served when only the foot soldiers are behind bars,” she said.

The senator said the Marcos administration has actively engaged with the wider international community, in contrast to the previous administration, and so it should be necessary for the current administration to express the Philippines’ cooperation with the ICC investigation.

Roque said the resumption of the ICC probe is a “waste of time and resources.”

“The ICC should focus instead on the war crimes and crimes against humanity that are actually happening in places like Ukraine and some African countries,” he said.

He insisted the Duterte administration was able to investigate, prosecute and convict several police officers involved in extra-legal killings of drug suspects.

Rody the Bear

Unperturbed or possibly still unaware of the developments in the ICC, supporters of Duterte have launched a Facebook page to sell teddy bear plushies that they call Rody the Bear to raise funds for the construction of a House of Hope building in Tagum City.

House of Hope is a temporary home for children undergoing treatment for cancer located at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Duterte is said to be one of its major benefactors.

In a Facebook video post by a certain Jassy Egan, Duterte is seen carrying two Rody the Bear plushies, urging people to support the children.

“Wala akong ibang hihingiin sa kapwa ko tao, isa lang, suportahan natin ang mga bata (I have nothing else to ask of you but to support the children),” Duterte in his video message said. Each 15-inch Rody the Bear sells for P1,600.

“Proceeds will go to House of Hope, a house for children with cancer that PRRD supports, to kickstart the fundraising for the new building to be built in Tagum City, Davao del Norte to accommodate more children from different parts of the Philippines,” the post said.

“Supporting this initiative allows us to extend the legacy of our dear Tatay Digong and would help many more children afflicted with cancer get the help they need,” the post added.

The post promised to present the funds they would collect to Duterte on his birthday on March 28.

The presentation will also be timed with unveiling of the renovated House of Hope in SPMC.

On Egan’s Facebook information, she listed her group as a non-profit based in Bacolod City.  – Helen Flores, Diana Lhyd Suelto

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