ICC: The real audience

The plan was never to impeach President Rodrigo Duterte, which has about the same chance of happening as Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano has of growing back his hair. What happened yesterday was the laying of the predicate for the intervention of the International Criminal Court.

If that isn’t clear to you yet, Alejano has made it perfectly so: The impeachment case that he filed and which was summarily dismissed by the House justice committee is headed for the ICC, he promised.

Of course, Alejano said that he will bring his case to The Hague because the House has proven that it cannot dispense justice by the dismissal. Where can he get justice, Alejano asked, sarcastically and faux-forlornly, from Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre?

But Alejano is being disingenuous and intellectually dishonest. Even if he is no lawyer, he must have known that his complaint to impeach Duterte was doomed from the start because it is based only on media reports of previous congressional investigations—which makes it thrice removed from the actual evidence that such a serious complaint requires.

Here’s the real plan: The Alejano complaint was intended to comply with ICC’s requirement that domestic judicial remedies must first be exhausted before the international tribunal can take cognizance of a case.

Since Duterte can only be removed from office legally through impeachment, that course of action should be taken first. And now that Alejano and the other people who want to oust Duterte can claim that impeachment has been eliminated as an option, they can plead their case directly to the tribunal.

This strategy seeks to exploit Rule 17 of the so-called Rome Statute which created the ICC. It lies at the heart of the principle of complementarity, which makes intervention by the tribunal allowable only if a) national authorities are already dealing with the same case; b) the same authorities have investigated the case and decided not to prosecute; and c) the same case has already been prosecuted at the national level.

The Rome Statute includes two exceptions to this “principle of admissibility” in the same article, which are both important to the case that those who want to remove Duterte want to make. These are, according to the International Center of Transitional Justice, if the national authorities “are either unwilling or unable to carry out fair proceedings.”

The important thing to remember is that the earlier so-called case filed by that heretofore unknown lawyer against Duterte was deep-sixed because local remedies had not been exhausted. The Alejano impeachment case, now that it has been junked by the House, will take care—in the minds of its proponents and funders, anyway—of that problem.

But is the ICC so stupid that it will not see the Alejano complaint for what it is—a rehash of the Sabio pleading brought before it earlier, the only difference being that this one went through the impeachment process in the House? Doesn’t the international tribunal have its own prosecutors who will seek real (as opposed to “published in Rappler”) evidence and eventually exonerate Duterte?

Ah, but the real point is not even to have Duterte convicted by the ICC, something that is going to take some doing despite the vast resources of Duterte’s foes. To paraphrase one of the more prominent Yellows, Duterte doesn’t really have to go to jail—he just has to appear like he’s a world-class criminal.

Put another way, the Yellows know that Filipinos, most of whom are Duterte’s supporters, want nothing to do with their nonsense anymore; the junking of the Alejano complaint by the people’s elected representatives is just a reflection of that. But if foreigners, their media and their agencies like the ICC can be made to give them more than just a passing glance, they will have already achieved their propaganda goals.

If the ICC gets going and builds and prosecutes a case, that’s already a bonus. And they pay their local agents handsomely for such things, apparently.

* * *

Meanwhile, at the Senate, the former government official who made it a policy to sign shady contracts and snub Congress finally put in an appearance. Noynoy Aquino’s favorite Cabinet member, former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, repeated his tired old defense that he approved of contracts that eventually ruined the MRT-3 system because he had faith in his predecessor and the organization he headed.

Abaya, who really should no longer be alive after Aquino promised that both he and his transportation secretary would lie down in front of an onrushing train if the LRT-1 was not extended to Cavite (of course it wasn’t), was still using the know-nothing strategy of his former boss, sprinkled liberally with that old, unreliable “good faith” defense. By his own admission, he is not only stupid, he is also as incompetent as his old boss.

Abaya really shouldn’t be attending congressional hearings, even if he has all the time in the world these days, since he no longer has a job. What this poster boy for inutility should be doing is making that date with the train —with Noynoy, as promised.

Topics: Jojo Robles , International Criminal Court , ICC , President Rodrigo Duterte , impeachment , Rep. Gary Alejano
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