Malacanang is confident the International Criminal Court’s request for a full investigation in the government’s war against illegal drugs will not prosper since the report collated by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was all based on hearsay.
“We are confident it will not prosper beyond this stage because in the first place, you need cooperation of the state if you are going to resort to a case buildup but right now, all they have is hearsay information,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in an interview over the ABS-CBN news channel.
“The reality is the alleged killings arising from the drug war were not killings intended to target civilians as such. They were collateral damage so to speak arising from a valid police operation to deal with the growing threat of drugs,” Roque said.
Roque also said that the majority of sources cited in Bensouda’s preliminary examination came from the media.
“As a lawyer, we know that media sources are considered hearsay. We need to present people who have actual personal knowledge of events to prove particularly criminal liability, which is proof beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.
The Palace spokesman noted that a crime against humanity requires a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population with the knowledge that it is being directed against a civilian population.
Bensouda has sought judicial authorization to investigate the country’s violent crackdown against illegal drugs that led to thousands of killings, but Malacanang earlier insisted it will not happen because the Philippines is no longer a member of the ICC.
“Bensouda’s request for full investigation violates the principle of complementarity since the country has a working legal system that has convicted those law enforcers that were proven to be responsible for some killings,” the Palace official said.
“The Department of Justice (DOJ) is in the process of investigating these cases right now,” he added.
Roque assured the public that President Duterte will not condone the men in uniform who commit crimes.
He likewise asked them to file complaints if they felt they were victims of abuse.
“The President has given the public an opportunity to file their complaints, there are ongoing investigations at the DOJ now,” he said.
“If there’s anyone who feels that they are victims, the President has repeatedly said that he will not countenance police action that violates the law but will support them when they’re in the right,” he added.
Manila Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo on Wednesday welcomed the ICC investigation and questioned the President’s refusal to cooperate with the probe.
“If they are not liable for any crimes, why are they not participating in the investigation?” he said in Filipino during a press conference.
Senator Christopher Go, a confidante of the President, said the government’s all-out war on drugs would continue despite the ICC move to investigate the high number of deaths that resulted from it.
Go maintained that the war against illegal drugs will remain relentless, saying the campaign has made the country safer and more secure.
Meanwhile, detained Senator Leila de Lima welcomed the ICC’s bid to investigate the “thousands of killings under the Duterte regime’s murderous war on drugs.”
“I most gladly welcome the decision of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the Honorable Fatou Bensouda, to proceed with the investigation of the drug war killings as a possible case of the ‘Crime Against Humanity of Murder’ under the Rome Statute,” De Lima said.
De Lima added that the recent development means that Duterte’s days are “coming to an end,” stressing that the only question now is whether Duterte’s own death will come as a boon and save him from the trial and judgment of the ICC for his crimes against humanity.
De Lima said Filipinos should “pray for Duterte’s long life and good health because his death would be unfair to the thousands of poor Filipinos killed under his orders.”