Roque: ICC starts preliminary examination on Duterte’s drug war

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands will be conducting the preliminary examination regarding the alleged acts associated to the campaign against illegal drugs covering the period of July 2016, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said during today’s press conference.

“The Office of the Prosecutor is merely exercising his mandate to determine whether there is reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into a situation pursuant to criteria in the Rome statute namely: jurisdiction, admissibility and interest of justice, lest the opposition got to claim for a victory,” he added.

“There is first communication filed with the Office of the Prosecutor from the initiation or from the filing of the communication. The prosecutor may conduct preliminary examination which is where we’re at. I reiterate the preliminary examination is not a formal preliminary investigation,” he explained.

He added that “there will be no formal investigation to be conducted in the country because at the level of the preliminary examination, where the Court does not include the budget for the prosecutor to come to the Philippines, because it is not yet a preliminary investigation. Now the objective is to determine if there is reasonable basis to proceed with the formal investigation.”

“After a preliminary investigation, the prosecutor would have to go to the pre-trial chamber of the Court for confirmation of charges before the charges can even be filed in the Court,” he added.

“The pre-trial chamber is an innovation, it’s the only chamber found in any Court in this planet,” he explained. “The objective of the pre-trial chamber is to hold the prosecutor liable because under American tradition, a prosecutor is elected whereas a prosecutor in the ICC is not elected.”

“So I repeat no one should claim a victory because there are only in the stage of preliminary examination,” he added.

Roque said that the ICC will not exercise jurisdiction unless domestic court are unable or unwilling to exercise jurisdiction.

“There is unwillingness when there is immunity statute. Yes we have immunity for our Presidents’ but they subsist only during their tenure in office as we have shown the world, two of our past Presidents went to jail immediately after their terms of office,” he said.

“I refer to that to show that there is no unwillingness in the Philippines because obviously a President can be prosecuted for any acts committed after his term of office. And that is why it is the position of the President that the case is inadmissible,” he added.

“The President is charged with alleged crimes against humanity. The elements of crimes against humanity are that: there must be either widespread or systematic attack directed against civilian populations; with knowledge that it was being directed against civilian populations. The acts attributed to the President are killings in relation to the ongoing drug war,” he said.

“We note though that the ongoing war against drug is an exercise of police power in dealing with the pernicious problem of drug trafficking in the Philippines. As a sovereign state, the Philippines’ has the inherent responsibility to protect its current and future generations by effectively addressing threats of the safety and wellbeing of its citizens such as proliferation of illegal drugs. Because the war against drug is a lawful, legitimate police operation, it cannot be characterized as an attack against civilian populations because they are civilians. It is a lawful use of force and therefore, we submit likewise that on the merits, the element of directing and attack against civilian population is simply lacking,” he explained.