MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said Wednesday that it could not directly reject the complaint filed by lawyer Jude Josue Sabio accusing President Duterte of crimes against humanity in the bloody war against Government drugs. just because he had removed it.
The Prosecutor’s Office said that the withdrawal of the complaint, or communication, “would have no impact on the ongoing preliminary examination” of the charges against Mr. Duterte.
It can’t be destroyed, come back
“The Office cannot destroy or return information effectively once it is in its possession or control,” the OTP media service said in response to an email inquiry from the Investigator.
In an affidavit to the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, Sabio said on Tuesday that his 77-page communication should be “set aside and” criticized “for being only part of the political propaganda” of the opposition led by the Party Liberal (LP).
He said his change was motivated in part by the “misery” he received for his services as opposition figures.
Citing Sabio’s statement, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the ICC should now see that detractors who want to overthrow the president were also using it.
Panelo also insisted that the ICC had no jurisdiction over the Philippines or Mr. Duterte and made fun of the opposition, particularly former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, after the change of Wise.
Cannot be removed
The OTP said that according to its own regulations and the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC, the complaint filed by Sage “cannot be withdrawn” because the OTP had “the obligation to record what it receives.”
He cited its Regulation 23, which establishes, among others, that a database will be maintained “to maintain the integrity of the evidence collected and to continuously gather information that reflects the relevance and actual use of the evidence.”
The OTP said it would still “record any complementary information that the sender (Wise) wants to provide now (even in terms of how to treat such information).”
He noted that Wise’s communication was not the only evidence he had, as he received reports on the accusations against Duterte and his subordinates from multiple sources.
“During the preliminary examination, the relevant evaluation carried out by the Office is based on the information available from a wide range of reliable sources,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.
He said he was “not limited” by the communications he was receiving.
One of several cases
As Trillanes had said previously, Sabio was one of several communications against the President and was based on accusations by two former Duterte security assistants: retired police officer Arturo Lascañas and the hired murderer Edgar Matobato confessed.
A communication was submitted by relatives of eight alleged victims of extrajudicial executions in the anti-narcotics campaign.
The Bensouda office said it would decide within a year if it would pursue the case against the President and his subordinates.
But Panelo said that the ICC must “wake up from its stupor if it is not because of ignorance.”
“He should now realize that he is being used by discontented and discredited people to advance his goal of ruining the PRRD’s reputation and achieving his impossible dream of overthrowing the Duterte presidency,” he said in a statement.
“Most importantly, I should recognize the unalterable legal fact that it has no jurisdiction over the President, and for that matter, the Philippines,” Panelo added.
He said that the Rome Statute that created the court was not published in the Philippines, so it could not be enforced here.
Wise’s complaint was orchestrated by Trillanes and was “part of the vilification campaign pursued relentlessly by incorrigible detractors, as well as by the political opposition totally repudiated by the electorate,” Panelo said.
Duterte ordered the withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute in March 2018, a month after Bensouda announced that he would begin the preliminary examination of the charges against him.
The ICC said the review would continue despite the withdrawal from the Philippines because it continued to have jurisdiction over crimes committed when the country was still a party to the statute.
Detained senator Leila de Lima said Wednesday that she “felt sorry” for Sage for putting her “own interests ahead of those she is supposed to defend,” adding that there could be “desperate forces” behind her “horrible move.”
“Sage may have fallen, but the fight continues without him and despite his betrayal of the victims,” De Lima said in a handwritten statement from his detention cell in Camp Crame.
LP president Senator Francis Pangilinan said that Sage lost his credibility when he suddenly grimaced.
“The public should reject this balimbing (two faces). He lies and knows it, ”said Pangilinan.
Carlos Conde, a Filipino researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the Sabio measure “had no material effect.”
“It is not just your complaint that is pending before the ICC. There are other complaints that are probably more important than yours,” he said.
“This also shows that Duterte really fears the ICC and what it can do to demand responsibility. It is sad that Wise is being exploited for the selfish purposes of the government, “said Count.
Butch Olano of Amnesty International said that, even without Sabio’s complaint, some 53 communications have been sent to the ICC since then, all of which are being reviewed.
The president of the Human Rights Commission, Chito Gascon, also said that the removal of Sage will not alter the processes of the ICC.
“The communication of Mr. Sage is only one of [more than 50 communications] and the ICC treats each communication in a similar way: they represent information that should be examined, examined, verified, validated and investigated by the ICC independently, “said Gascon.
—With reports from Leila B. Salaverria, Marlon Ramos and Patricia Denise M. Chiu
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