Roque weighs in on International Criminal Court controversy

Harry Roque

FORMER Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque yesterday said the complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte lodged at the International Criminal Court (ICC) “died” when the court failed to launch preliminary investigation before the country’s withdrawal from the organization took effect on Sunday.

“Malinaw ang Rome Statute. Para magpatuloy ‘yan dapat nagsampa ng preliminary investigation ang prosecution bago naging epektibo ang pagbibitiw natin o pag-kalas natin sa ICC,” Roque told reporters on the sidelines of the kick-off ceremony of the 7th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law in Pasay City.

Roque added: “Kinakailangan na bago mag-withdraw, para magkaroon ng jurisdiction ang ICC ay mayroon nang preliminary investigation, and since walang ganon, patay na po, ibinasura na lahat ng reklamo laban kay President Duterte.”

The country’s withdrawal from the ICC took effect on Sunday, making the Philippines the second country to pull out from the only war crimes tribunal in the world.  In 2017, Burundi withdrew its membership from the ICC.

Roque explained that the ICC could only assume jurisdiction when the national government has failed to address its international crimes.

He said if the President violated any law, the complaint should have been filed before a Philippine court first such as the Ombudsman that has the power to investigate and recommend impeachment against a sitting president.

“Gumagana po ang mga hukuman natin at gaya nga ng sabi ko kanina, insulto para sa kahit sinong Filipino na ihahambing ang ating mga hudikatura sa mga bansa na ngayon ay dinidinig ng ICC. Sudan, Burundi, parang ‘di naman ganyan ang mga huwes sa Pilipinas at walang dahilan para umakto ang ICC.”