Malacañang on Wednesday insisted that President Rodrigo Duterte could not face trial at the International Criminal Court following the withdrawal of one of the communications that linked him to crimes against humanity.
“It should realize by now that it is being used by disgruntled and discredited persons to advance their goal of besmirching the reputation of President Duterte and achieving their impossible dream of bringing down the Duterte presidency, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“Moreover, it should recognize the unalterable legal fact that it has no jurisdiction over the President, and for that matter, the Philippines.”
“Lawyer Jude Sabio was not pressured by Malacañang nor paid by anyone in the administration to withdraw the communication he filed in 2017 against Duterte before the ICC,” a source said.
According to lawyer Larry Gadon, Sabio decided to withdraw the complaint against Duterte after he realized it was all “part of the political propaganda” of the opposition to besmirch the reputation of the President.
“Malacañang has nothing to do with this. President Duterte does not even mind this case. He has even withdrawn the country from the ICC last year,” Gadon said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday underscored the need for heavier penalties against lying witnesses like lawyer Jude Sabio, Peter Joemel “Bikoy” Advincula, Rodney “Ninja Cop” Baloyo, Edgar Matobato, Arturo Lascañas, Cezar Mancao II and Mary “Rosebud” Ong.
“They are all reasons for the need for a stronger law that would impose heavier penalties on lying witnesses―including public officials and employees who may be behind them,” he said.
Panelo’s statement came a day after Sabio withdrew his communications to the ICC―a move which has no impact on the ongoing preliminary examination of the court to determine if it has jurisdiction over the matter, its Office of the Prosecutor said.
The prosecutor’s office also said they were obliged to register whatever information they received.
In response, Panelo said the ICC must “wake up from its stupor if not ignorance.”
Duterte had repeatedly said that the ICC had no jurisdiction over him, arguing that the Rome Statute―the treaty that established the ICC―was not enforceable in the country.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda started a preliminary examination of Sabio’s allegations in February 2018.
Weeks later, Duterte announced the Philippines was withdrawing from the ICC, which took effect in March 2019.
Sabio claimed he withdrew his communication because he did not want to be part of the “political propaganda” waged by the members of the opposition such as Senator Leila de Lima and former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
“Put simply, the complaint against President Duterte, orchestrated by Trillanes, is part of the vilification campaign relentlessly pursued by the incorrigible detractors as well as the political opposition totally repudiated by the electorate, Panelo said.
He surmised that 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. With Rey E. Requejo and Macon Ramos-Araneta