De Lima slams Duterte’s ‘flimsy excuse’ to avoid ICC investigation, prosecution


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has disproved Duterte’s wrongful defense on the non-publication of the Rome Statute to save himself from investigation and prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the thousands of killings under his regime’s murderous drug war.

 De Lima made the statement after Duterte, in what she called a “flimsy excuse,” recently claimed that he cannot be placed under the jurisdiction of the ICC and its processes because the Rome Statute was “not published by the Bureau of Printing.” 

 “That may be the case, but only if Duterte is defending himself from prosecution under a municipal or domestic law enforceable within Philippine jurisdiction,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1079.

“But he is not. He will soon be investigated and prosecuted under an international treaty known as the Rome Statute whose effectivity is governed not by municipal laws, but by its own provisions, i.e., through ratification,” she added.

 De Lima further stressed that Duterte is grasping at straws in last ditch efforts to save himself from ICC’s probe because “he very well knows that the ICC can go after him, otherwise he will not devote so much time disparaging and belittling the international tribunal.”

 During his recent televised public briefing, Duterte reportedly reiterated that he will never cooperate in ICC’s pending investigation into his administration’s bloody war on drugs, claiming that he decided to withdraw from the Rome Statute effective March 2019 because then-president Joseph Estrada was not aware of the agreement.

 De Lima explained that municipal laws of effectivity do not bind a treaty body, such as the ICC, saying that once the Philippines submitted its instrument of ratification to the Rome Statute, it effectively and fully became a State party to the Rome Statute.

“To follow Duterte’s novel reasoning would now mean that the Philippines has not effectively ratified any international treaty since the enactment of the Civil Code of the Philippines, including ratification of its membership to the UN, ASEAN, and every other international body of importance to the country,” she said.

De Lima lamented how Duterte is “willing to obliterate all Philippine instruments of treaty ratification, making it an international pariah of not being a State party to any treaty ever entered into by States of the modern world” just to save himself and his death squads from ICC investigation.

“If Duterte is to be followed, then the DFA might as well prepare to be stripped of its embassies and consulates abroad, and our ambassadors and consuls shorn of their diplomatic immunity because, after all, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations was never published by the Bureau of Printing before it was ratified by the Philippines,” she said.

 Then outgoing ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced last June 14 that she has sought permission for a full-blown investigation to follow her office’s preliminary examination into the allegations against Duterte and others involved in the current regime’s drug war.

Bensouda said that a preliminary examination found reason to believe crimes against humanity had been committed during Duterte’s crackdown on drugs between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019. Bensouda also recommended to investigate killings in Davao from 2011-2016. (30)

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