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‘Incorrigible detractors’ using ICC to discredit Duterte: Palace

January 16, 2020 - Thursday 2:01 PM by PNA

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MANILA – It is high time for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “wake up” and realize that “disgruntled and discredited” individuals are tainting President Rodrigo Duterte’s reputation for their own benefit, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after lawyer Jude Sabio dropped the communication, he lodged against Duterte before the ICC.

Panelo said Sabio’s withdrawal of the communication bared the truth that the accusations against Duterte and his war on illegal drugs were part of the “vilification campaign” of opposition Liberal Party and other critics like former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

“Sabio claims he has withdrawn his complaint because he didn’t want to be a part of the political propaganda of Trillanes and the Liberal Party,” the Palace official said in a statement.

"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,” he added.

The ICC, in its report on “preliminary examination activities” for 2019, noted that it seeks the conclusion of its initial review of Duterte’s drug war by 2020 to determine the possible conduct of a full-blown investigation into the Philippines’ campaign against the narcotics trade.

The Philippines was officially out of the ICC on Mar. 17, 2019, but the international body still proceeded with its preliminary examination of the anti-narcotics campaign initiated by Duterte despite the country’s exit.

In February 2018, the ICC launched a preliminary examination of Duterte's crackdown on illegal drugs, based on Sabio's communication that accuses the President of committing crimes against humanity for the killings of thousands of drug offenders from July 1, 2016 to Mar. 31, 2017.

Sabio, in a 28-page pleading, asked ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Tuesday to remove his name from the communications sent to the international tribunal.

‘Impossible dream’ to bring down gov’t

Panelo said it appeared that Sabio was merely tapped by Trillanes to file the complaint against the President.

He added that lies can only be sustained for some time, but when “conscience haunts and torments the peddler, it melts by the heat of truth.”

"The professional tie between the two has since turned sour owing to Trillanes’ alleged failure to pay Sabio’s professional fees leading to the latter’s withdrawal of his complaint before the ICC,” he said.

“Trillanes must be squirming in his disgraced retirement by Sabio’s turnabout,” he added.

Panelo said “slowly but surely,” destabilizers of Duterte and his administration are “undressed” as their “obnoxious smell like ashfall pollute the air.”

Panelo said the ICC should be awakened to the fact that Duterte’s enemies want to fulfill the “impossible dream” to topple the current administration.

“The ICC has to wake up from its stupor if not ignorance,” Panelo said.

“It should realize by now that it is being used by disgruntled and discredited persons to advance their goal of besmirching the reputation of PRRD (President Rodrigo R. Duterte) and achieving their impossible dream of bringing down the Duterte presidency,” he added.

No jurisdiction over PRRD, PH

Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, also insisted that the ICC has no jurisdiction over Duterte and the Philippines.

He said it is an “incontrovertible” fact that the ICC “never” acquired jurisdiction over the Philippines because the Rome Statute that created the international body is “never clothed with legal enforceability” in the country’s jurisdiction.

He reiterated that the Rome Statute lacks the legal requirement of publication, the operative act that should have given birth to its enforceability over the Philippines.

“It (ICC) continues to accept communications from entities and persons relative to complaints on human rights against Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. (It) only demonstrates its continuing ignorance of the very source of its being,” Panelo said.

“It should recognize the unalterable legal fact that it has no jurisdiction over the President, and for that matter, the Philippines,” he added.

On Dec. 12, 2019, Duterte denied that he ordered the police and the military to kill drug suspects in the Philippines.

The President also said on Dec. 20 last year that he would not cooperate with the ICC, in case it seeks his explanation over the deaths of drug offenders in the country under his watch.

The President said he would not respond to ICC’s possible “stupid” questions since he is “responsible only to the Filipino(s).” (PNA)