Duty trounces ICC

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Saying it is his duty to preserve the nation and to protect the people, President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday said he will pursue a relentless campaign against drugs despite the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) announcement that the probe on the anti-narcotics campaign is ongoing.

ICC said the probe was meant to determine its jurisdiction over crimes against humanity charges that critics of the President filed with the court last year.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the tribunal is continuing its assessment of available information to determine if there is reasonable basis for the ICC to acquire jurisdiction over the charges against Mr. Duterte.

During the 85th anniversary of the Department of Labor and Employment, the President said cleaning up the country of the scourge of narcotics will be his gift to the Filipino people.
“I’ll give you a drug-free community,” he said.

“As I have promised, I will build a comfortable city, but to those who will stand in my way, they should leave or I will kill them. When I became President, it is the same thing. If you destroy my daughter, if you destroy my son, I will kill you,” he added.

“They said that I kill drug pushers, that I kill (members of) drug syndicates, that’s true,” Mr. Duterte said to taunt the ICC.

“I have many members of the military who died, Marines, because of the campaign. It is everywhere,” he stressed.

The President said several poor people were killed during police operations against drugs since the drug lords are hard to catch.

“They hide in yachts,” he said.

Expected move

Chief Legal Counsel and presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Palace is not surprised with the ICC move since it “and even some United Nations officials have been issuing public statements and comments which tend to embarrass our country and produce an impression to the world that our government is already guilty of the crimes being accused of.”

Panelo said the ICC is free to proceed with its undertakings but “as far as we are concerned, the Philippines never became a State Party to the Rome Statute which created the ICC.”
“Thus, we will treat this tribunal as nonexistent and its actions a futile exercise,” he added.

Mr. Duterte’s spokesman reiterated the President’s position on the Rome Statute was clear in that the law, being penal in nature, “never took effect insofar as the Philippines is concerned due to its non-publication.”

“This omission violates not only Article 2 of the Civil Code, but more notably, Article III, Sections 1 and 7 of the 1987 Constitution which respectively guarantee the rights of the people to due process and to be informed on matters of national concern. Treaties, as well all know, cannot supplant our Constitution,” he added.

No basis for probe

Panelo said that ICC’s jurisdiction cannot apply since “it cannot be denied that the Philippines has a robust judicial system which soundly operates.”

“The conviction by the Caloocan court of three policemen for the killing of Kian delos Santos is plain proof of this. With this, the ICC does not have any basis at all to advance its activities regardless of whether it is still in the preliminary examination phase,” he added.

“Furthermore, only when a preliminary investigation has commenced prior to the effective date of the withdrawal (assuming the ICC has jurisdiction and the Philippines made a withdrawal pursuant to the Rome Statute) that the ICC can continue with the case initiated,” Panelo added.

He said the Palace considers any implication that the ICC has basis to act upon the situation of the country “as an affront to the capability of our courts to act independently, an insult to the Philippine legal system and an infringement upon our very sovereignty.”

Believe but be wise

Mr. Duterte also called on the Filipino faithful to “believe in God but do not be fooled by religion.”

Mr. Duterte made the remark as he took another swipe at the Catholic Church.

“You keep on attacking me. You call me the devil, but then, what are you? Religious? Come on, you (better) shape up,” the President said in his emotion-filled rant against the prelates.

Mr. Duterte also advised the public to buy “Altar Secrets” written by the late Aries Rufo which he said will turn even the most devout of the Catholic faithful into non-believers.
“By tomorrow, you may no longer be Catholics,” he expressed.

“All their (priests) sins are (written) here – sex, politics and money in the Philippine Catholic Church. Once you get to the last page, you may no longer be a Catholic. Me, I advise you to stay with God, but do not be fooled by religion. Religion, the one who wrote that… that was 3,000 years ago. What do they know about our lives?” the President added.

Just a day ago, he blasted the “hypocrite” Catholic Church for criticizing his perceived merciless campaign against illegal drugs. The President went as far as saying 90 percent are homosexuals and that “useless bishops” must be “killed” for not supporting his administration.

Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, one of Mr. Duterte’s most vocal critics and lately have been on the receiving end of his verbal attacks, quoted the Luke 6:27-36 from the Bible in reaction to the President’s tirades.

It is a passage that speaks of “loving one’s enemies” in the face of adversity.

With Mario J. Mallari and Elmer N. Manuel

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