Palace says ICC prosecutor's report vs Duterte's drug war "hearsay"
The preliminary examination report of International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda over President Rodrigo Duterte's alleged crimes against humanity in relation to his war on drugs was based on "hearsay," Malacanang said on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that "85 percent" of the sources cited by Bensouda on her report came from the media.
"That is why I find the report of Bensouda fantastic. Without resorting to forensic examination, without resorting to primary document, relying only on media reports, she came up with a fantastic conclusion that almost all of these killings were in fact instances were, you know, 'nanlaban （resisting）' was non-debatable,'' he said in an interview with ANC.
''To me, that’s really more of fiction or, perhaps, conclusions, as I said earlier, based on hearsay information," he said in an interview with ANC.
Roque, who is also a lawyer, said in an investigation, there is a need to present people with actual knowledge of events to prove particularly criminal liability, which is proof beyond reasonable doubt.
However, he said if the ICC prosecutor wants to file an information against Duterte on the basis of hearsay information, "let them go ahead."
Roque, however, insisted that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of crimes against humanity "because clearly a crime against humanity requires a widespread or systematic attack against civilian population with the knowledge that it was being directed against civilian population.
"And the reality is, the alleged killings arising in the drug wars were not killings intended to target civilians as such, there were collateral damage so to speak arising from a valid police operation. It is a valid sovereign function of course to deal with the growing threat of drugs in any society as in fact the United Nations has included this in its agenda," Roque explained.
He also noted that the domestic legal system is functioning, thus, the ICC should not exercise jurisdiction because of the "principle of complementarity."
Roque cited the case of teenager who was killed by the policemen in an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City in 2017.
He said charges against the cops have prospered in court.
He also cited the cooperation of the Philippine National Police with the Department of Justice to investigate some cases involving individuals killed during the anti-drug operations.
"I was with the PNP （Philippine National Police） Chief （Guillermo） Eleazar yesterday, in addition to the initial 61 cases that they have forwarded to the DOJ where themselves found, let’s just say, aberration in the manner individuals were killed, they are willing to, in fact, turnover all the 6,000 files which involved deaths as a result of the drug war to the DOJ for investigation," he said.
"Now, if that is not a willingness on the part of the Philippines to investigate, I don’t know what is. Yes, there is a delay, but there is so much delay in the ICC. They are probably going to have more delays in the ICC compared to the domestic institutions," he stressed.
Asked on Bensouda observation that despite the DOJ's probe, no case has been filed yet, Roque said, "Because she considered the reporting of anti-government media as gospel truth. You and I know that that conclusion is not true, that there are some convictions already. So that what happens when you rely completely on one-side, then hearsay information?"
Bensouda announced on June 14 that she has concluded her preliminary examination in the Philippines and is seeking authorization from the Court’s judges for a full investigation into crimes against humanity, torture and other inhumane acts committed in connection with the country’s “war on drugs.”
These include extrajudicial executions committed by police in “anti-drug operations” following incitement and encouragement by high-ranking officials, including Duterte.
When he assumed the presidency in 2016, Duterte declared an all-out war against illegal drugs. Celerina Monte/DMS